HBO News Blog

Movie Deals: Theatrical Movies on HBO

By Jef Dinsmore on Aug 28, 2012 to HBO News

I have been meaning to offer my opinion on this topic for quite a while. It always got pushed further down the list of potential posts to make way for more interesting ones. Now with the following news item recently released I thought the time is now or never.

First, the news item finally prompting this post to be written. HBO has extended its output deal with 20th Century Fox. HBO has had a contract with the movie studio for over thirty years. Just last week a extension of that deal means that the pay channel will air 20th Century Fox theatrical movies as exclusive Saturday Premieres through 2022. In the next few years HBO will also have to renew contracts with the two other movie studios in has contracts with. All this ensures that HBO still is in the business, even as original programming escalates, to run theatrical movies on the channel.

Of course, one of the staples in the early days of HBO’s service was showcasing movies. At that time the pay channel had deals with many major studios. As the decades went by more outlets have arisen that have changed that a bit. In fact, he is a breakdown of which studios work with which outlets.

  1. HBO – 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures & Summit
  2. Starz – Disney & Sony
  3. Showtime – DreamWorks, Weinstein & CBS
  4. Epix – Lionsgate, MGM & Paramount Pictures
  5. Sites like Netflix – they have to wait until the pay channel window closes.


All this leads me to my query. Every month I write the “WHAT’S ON:” article for HBOWatch and I list what theatrical movies are premiering each time. In the back of my mind always lingers the question of how many of the Saturday night premieres do people actually watch?  Most people seem to gravitate to the original series like GAME OF THRONES and GIRLS not the movies. After all, if you really wanted to see a movie badly enough, let’s say RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, wouldn’t you have caught it at the cinema or rented the DVD? By the time it gets to the pay channel your interests have already been seen. HBO and the like, however, do offer the change to catch a flick you wouldn’t travel to the multiplex for or gives you the opportunity to watch a favorite again.

The theatrical movies must draw enough viewers to keep the contractual agreements with the studios going. For me, out of the four or five first-to-air movies guaranteed each month by HBO I only watch one or two and there is plenty on the schedule ahead to choose from. With this latest deal signed with FOX it looks like movies will still be a staple on the pay channel for quite a while.

How about the rest of you? Do you watch many movies on HBO? Drop us a comment; we’d like to know what you are thinking.   

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