UPN Spends Up Big On Movies

By Caillan
June 14, 2001 - 2:49 PM

Movies are set to become a big feature on Saturday afternoons at UPN. The network announced on Tuesday that it has secured an agreement with movie giant MGM to show 57 movies from its film library.

Starting August 4, UPN will be showing an MGM film each week. These include 'Three Amigos,' 'Curse of the Pink Panther,' 'Rocky V, 'Hoosiers,' and 'RoboCop 2,' Mediaweek reported. By scheduling these films on Saturday, UPN will be able to secure a steady audience on a sixth night of programming.

Previously, the network had attempted to do this on Sundays with the XFL football league, and is currently running limited programming on Saturdays, such as repeat of Voyager's 'Endgame' and the one-hour special The Source Sound Lab. However, this is the first time that there will be continuous prime-time programming on a sixth night.

Todd Lutichy, senior vice president of programming at UPN, recently told Variety that the network "plans to increase the number of titles it buys and go after stronger pictures." However, the network is still cautious about this new venture. "I can't see us spending $30 million for two or three runs of a movie," Lutichy continued. "We'd rather apply that money toward series."

Under the deal with UPN, MGM will co-ordinate the advertising for the films, and arrange for them to be scheduled in markets where UPN doesn't have any affiliate stations. UPN will not only allot the films to its affiliates, but also allow them a repeat during a certain time-frame.

UPN also outsources its advertising to the WWF, operating under a similar agreement over the Thursday night staple WWF Smackdown!. Although this agreement means that UPN will have to pay less to acquire the movies, it limits the amount of revenue the network will make from the venture. However, UPN will profit from being able to use the movies to heavily promote its weeknight programming, which will include Enterprise, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Roswell next season.

Although the Big Four networks, CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox, are reducing the number of movies they buy, UPN has had success in recent months by scheduling feature films, particularly in the urban genre. On March 2, the film 'Bad Boys' scored UPN's best ratings on a Tuesday night, and only this Friday the film 'Interview With The Vampire' beat one of the major networks in the ratings demographic adults 18-49 for the first time ever.

Futher information can be found in this Mediaweek report.

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