E! has acquired its first major film package. The cable network bought a small bundle of films (fewer than 10)from Sony Pictures Television including Mystic Pizza, Desperately Seeking Susan, The Birdcage and Fargo.
The network plans to premiere one movie every two weeks and rotate it through various dayparts. E! will also dip into its library to beef up the movies with branded interstitials containing movie trivia and industry trends.
E! isn't wasting any time trying to get a return on its investment. First up: Fargo, which will debut later this month. E! and Sony were not talking dollars, but one industry insider put a range of $500,000 to $1 million or between $50,000 and $100,000 per title.
E! had previously experimented with original movies or one-off movie stunts, but this is the network’s first feature film acquisition.
The network had been talking about acquiring movies for a while, but locked in the deal with Sony after the studio proved particularly helpful in carving out earlier windows for titles of interest, said SVP Programming for E! and Style Salaam Coleman Smith.
“E! is a fan-driven network focused on viewers who crave everything entertainment – celebrity culture, TV, movies and music,” she said. “For us, showcasing acquired movies is a natural extension of the E! brand.”
“In an evolving marketplace with more people experimenting with who they are, people continue to circle back to the staple of feature films to find their identity, launch originals, or maintain viewership of series,” said John Weiser, President of Distribution for Sony Pictures Television.
Windows will be short, but “long enough to properly gauge viewers’ response and develop a more aggressive buying strategy for the future,” Coleman Smith said.
The movies will likely be treated like specials, with a “reasonable number of airings.”
E! averaged 390,000 total viewers in prime in July – up 5% over last year.