All four Star Wars movies will be shown on Australian pay-TV channel Showtime next year, following a deal between Showtime parent company Premium Movie Partnership (PMP) and 20th Century Fox.
PMP chief executive Bob Donoghue believes it will be the first time that all four films will be shown as a group on television. The first three were withdrawn from the small screen almost a decade ago.
"It will be a very big subscriber driver. I am very pleased with the way it has worked out but it was not an easy negotiation. It would not have been achieved without the help of 20th Century Fox and my board members."
Showtime will have access to the films from March and will probably show them in April/May.
Donoghue announced the acquisition during the launch of a number of major changes at Australia's dominant pay-TV platform, Foxtel. They include the addition of a new Showtime 2 channel - which will screen the same films as Showtime but two hours later - and Fox Classics, which will feature veteran reviewer Bill Collins presenting a movie from the golden era of Hollywood each evening at 8.30pm.
Showtime 2 has been given the marketing one-liner "all the best blockbusters, 48 hours a day", but will not have access to all US studio product, because in Australia the studios provide product to either Foxtel or competing platform Optus Vision, but not both. Showtime is owned and supplied by Liberty Media, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Fox under the PMP banner.
Donoghue also confirmed that After The Rain, Showtime's first local made-for-television movie, was on track to go into production in February. The psychological thriller about a journalist who gets involved in a murder case is being produced by Columbia TriStar Productions.
Meanwhile, Foxtel also announced that subscriptions this week reached the 700,000 homes mark representing, 2.3% of the Australian population.