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Netflix Gets 'The Artist' Ahead of Pay-TV Channels

21 Feb, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Netflix Feb. 21 said it signed a first-ever multiyear streaming deal with The Weinstein Co. for select movies, including critically acclaimed The Artist, with 10 Oscar nominations. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

French-made The Artist, starring Oscar-nominated Jean Dujardin (Best Actor) as a silent film star who can’t make the transition to talking movies in Hollywood, will be available to Netflix subscribers in the pay-TV window ahead of traditional premium cable channels such as HBO and Showtime.

The Los Gatos, Calif.-based rental service gets The Artist the same day the title is available at retail on disc, electronic sellthrough and transactional VOD, according to spokesperson Steve Swasey.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has long lamented the rental company's end-the-line status for major movies with pay-TV channels, which typically sewed up rights for up to 10 years. Nettflix's market leader status in subscription video-on-demand and willingness to spend heavily on exclusive content (especially TV fare) has made it a No. 1 priority among media companies and content holders.

The Artist's many honors include the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy and Best Picture awards from the Producers Guild of America, British Academy of Film and Television, the London Critics Circle and NY Film Critics Circle. It has garnered numerous awards for director Hazanavicius, Dujardin, co-star Berenice Bejo and composer Ludovic Bource.

In addition, Netflix’s deal with TWC owners Bob and Harvey Weinstein includes foreign language, documentary and related films, including Undefeated, nominated for a 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Directed by Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin, Undefeated follows players on a Memphis, Tenn., inner-city high school football team as it attempts to win its first playoff game in the school's history.

Other TWC specialty films appearing exclusively on Netflix within one year of their theatrical release include French-language World War II drama Sarah's Key, starring Academy Award-nominated actress Kristin Scott Thomas; the recent French box office record-breaker The Intouchables; the romantic drama W.E., directed by Madonna and winner of the Golden Globe for Best Original Song/Motion Picture; Shakespearean adaptation Coriolanus, directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes; and Bully, a documentary about bullying in America's schools.

“It is a fantastic coup for Netflix to acquire The Artist and the package of additional titles," TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein said in a statement. "With this deal, a company that loves movies, Netflix, joins forces with a company that is built on that same love. It's exciting that we can offer consumers a supremely convenient way to see the kinds of movies that made us want to be in this business in the first place."

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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