‘Star Wars’ Topples ‘King Kong’

First Frodo and now the big ape: Spike TV’s presentation of the original Star Wars movies this past weekend topped TNT’s burst of Peter Jackson’s King Kong.

Spike, which over the past two weekends became the first basic-cable network to show all six features of the George Lucas franchise, notched 2.5 million viewers on Friday April 11 with Episode IV: A New Hope, according to Nielsen Media Research data. That total included 863,000 men 18 to 49, the networks’ targeted audience. Among men 18 to 34, the film attracted 424,000 of those watchers, and 1.4 million adults 18 to 49.

Those numbers compared favorably with TNT’s telecast of King Kong, which garnered 2.1 million viewers, 1.1 million adults 18 to 49, 604,000 men 18 to 49 and 234,000 males 18 to 34.

On Saturday night, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back pulled in 3.5 million watchers, including 1.9 million adults 18 to 49, 1.2 million men 18 to 49 and 468,000 men 18 to 34.

For its part, King Kong had 2 million total viewers, according to Nielsen, a total that included 1 million adults 18 to 49, 526,00 men 18 to 49 and 190,000 men 18 to 34.

As for Episode VI: Return of the Jedi on April 13, it scored with 4.12 million total viewers, just short of the 4.25 million that tuned in the April 6 broadcast premiere of Episode III: Return of the Sith, the most-watched movie in Spike history. Jedi, though, took men 18-to-49 honors among the six Star Wars sagas for Spike, with 1.5 million of those viewers. The film also tallied 2.4 million adults 18 to 49 and 614,000 men 18 to 34.

For its part, TNT notched 2 million viewers for its final weekend Kong showing, a total that included 1.1 million adults 18 to 49, 657,000 men 18 to 49 and 260,000 males 18 to 34.

Sister service TBS also swung with Kong April 11, banking 1.83 million viewers on average from 8 p.m. to midnight on April 11. The film posted 915,000 adults 18 to 49, 493,000 men 18 to 49 and 262,00 men 18 to 34 last Friday night.

For their part, the Star Wars films essentially ran within a three-hour window from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

During the weekend of April 4-6, Spike ran the first three Star Wars pictures, while TNT aired Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.