Spike Buys Bundle of Action Movies

Oct 3, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Spike is looking for men at the movies.

The Viacom-owned cable network has bought a package of 17 films from Miramax and Dimension Films, headed by the stylish “Sin City.” Spike will be able to air in 2007 the commercial television premiere of the movie, which took in $74 million at the box office.

Spike paid about $10 million for the films, network acquisition executives estimated. Neither Spike nor Miramax would comment on the price paid by the network.

The package of action-oriented movies is designed to appeal to the network target audience of men 18 to 49 and men 18 to 34 who used to come to the network to watch WWE wrestling, which moves to USA Network this week.

“Movies were part of our strategy regardless of the WWE,” said Robert Friedman, senior VP of programming for Spike. He said the network is shifting its focus to “more contemporary films that are engaging and enticing to our young male audience.”

In addition to “Sin City” the package includes “Hero,” a martial arts film that drew $53 million at the box office during its theatrical run. Spike will have the commercial television debut of “Hero” in 2006, as well as “Iron Monkey,” “Zatoichi” and “Mindhunters” in 2007. The package also includes some classic Bruce Lee films. The martial arts movies will run during Spike’s Fists of Fury block.

Mr. Friedman said he doesn’t see the movies as a substitute for wrestling, usually among the top-rated programs on cable. “I don’t expect to replace it, nor are we going to try,” he said. But he noted that the network has had success with its “Ultimate Fighting Championship” series. “Typically there’s a crossover with this type of action genre,” he said.

Many of the films will run in prime time, with Spike’s off-network ratings hit “CSI” as a lead-in.

Mr. Friedman said Spike checks the box office for films that skew toward male viewers. One such film was the latest James Bond flick, “Die Another Day,” which drew a 2 household rating on Spike last month, according to Nielsen Media Research.

“The broadcast premiere of ‘Die Another Day’ did really well with our audience,” he said, noting that the Bond franchise has become closely identified with the channel and tends to draw an audience that is more than 50 percent male.