Armed with his new stake in DirecTV, John Malone will no doubt change the landscape of the cable and satellite biz. But the ripple effect extends into some unexpected places--including the sale of theatrical films to Malone's Starz pay TV network and its HBO and Showtime competitors.
With plans to become a bigger player in films, Malone had hired Chris McGurk, former vice chairman and chief operating officer of MGM, to buy or produce up to 12 movies a year, all of which will end up on Starz.
Showtime also is emphasizing original programming, not just movies but series.
In both cases, Starz and Showtime will be less dependent on Hollywood, which is in danger of losing a longtime cash cow: theatrical movie sales to pay cable.
Some of the major studios' deals at HBO, Showtime and Starz expire in 2008 and '09, and the three networks are seriously weighing whether they want to renew.
If they decide to tear up their current theatrical contracts, which ensure a multimillion-dollar payday for each movie, Hollywood would be forced to re-think some of its …