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ION Adds Major-Studio Theatricals with Warner Deal

Over-the-air broadcaster ION Television made its first large multititle theatrical deal with a major film studio Monday, licensing 27 library titles from Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution that it said will bring Academy Award theatrical winners to its lineup.

The network said it is contemplating acquiring more major-studio film packages. In the past, ION would buy individual titles or small title groupings.

The Warner Bros. agreement, which runs from fall 2008-summer 2010, includes The Fugitive, Goodfellas, You’ve Got Mail, Batman Forever and Batman Returns. The first film to reach air will be Grumpier Old Men, scheduled for Sept. 24.

“Our deal with Warner Bros. is part of our newly rebranded commitment to provide entertaining popular content with mass appeal to broad audiences,” ION Media Networks chairman and CEO Brandon Burgess said in a statement.

ION rebranded itself earlier this month with the theme “Positively Entertaining” to highlight a programming upgrade and to attempt to attract young audiences.

“Theatrical motion pictures are consistent ratings performers and play an important part in a network’s programming mix,” Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution president Ken Werner said in a statement about the ION deal.