The BBC has struck an exclusive free-TV licensing deal with Buena Vista International Television for a package of over 100 titles, including Calendar Girls, Cold Mountain and Kill Bill.
The multi-million pound deal covers titles from Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures and Miramax Films. Other titles in the package include Chicago, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and The Hours.
Although the deal largely comprises US films, BBC controller of acquisitions George McGhee told ScreenDaily.com said that there was a strongly British feel to many of the movies in the deal which, on top of Calendar Girls, include The Importance Of Being Earnest, The Four Feathers and The Quiet American.
The move comes just weeks after UK broadcasters were criticised by a committee of MPs for showing too few British films on television (ScreenDaily.com, Sept 18). According to UK Film Council figures, only 2.8% of the films shown on the five main terrestrial channels in 2002 were recent (i.e. less than eight years old) British films.
The deal also includes a number of library titles including The English Patient, Emma, the Hitchcock classic Rebecca and Cabaret.
Foreign language titles include City Of God.
McGhee said that many of the bigger titles would play in peak holiday slots over Christmas, Easter and the New Year. The films will be broadcast across the BBC's channels from the end of 2004.
Tom Toumazis, senior vice president and managing director EMEA, BVITV commented: "This broad selection of features from our portfolio will provide high quality, timeslot winning entertainment for BBC viewers of all ages and tastes."