Miramax Films' long-awaited comedy Daddy And Them will not have a theatrical release in the US following a deal with Showtime to premiere the film on pay-TV. The movie is the third to be directed by Billy Bob Thornton after Sling Blade and All The Pretty Horses and features a stellar cast including Thornton himself, Laura Dern, Diane Ladd, Kelly Preston, Andy Griffith, Jim Varney Brenda Blethyn, Ben Affleck and Jamie Lee Curtis.

The deal, which will see the film play on Showtime in 2003, is unusual in that the film is a Miramax Films production, and as late as last winter, Thornton was still anticipating a theatrical release in early 2002.

In the film, which Thornton also wrote, Varney plays a man accused of murder whose nephew (Thornton) and his wife (Dern) come to his defense. His poor Arkansas family is rounded out by Ladd as Dern's mother, Preston as her sister and Griffith as Thornton's father. Curtis and Affleck play a pair of married lawyers.

The film was produced by Geyer Kosinski, Larry Meistrich and Robert Salerno. The deal was brokered by Showtime vice president of acquisitions Gary Garfinkel and Dan Cohen of Miramax.

Daddy And Them marks another straight-to-Showtime premiere for a high profile independent title following other titles such as Adrian Lyne's Lolita, Rodrigo Garcia's Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her, Allison Anders' Things Behind The Sun and Henry Bean's The Believer.