news digest


Discovery serving seconds, sneak peeks

Discovery is set to launch today ad-supported, full-length episodes of series and specials from across its networks on its Web sites and VOD service, Discovery on Demand. The digital initiative includes sneak peeks and day-after episodes from shows and initially will feature Animal Planet's "Meerkat Manor," Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs" and TLC's "LA Ink." Additional programs will be added regularly.

Sony has international 'Spirit'

The Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group has acquired all rights in select international territories to Will Eisner's "The Spirit." The territories include but are not limited to France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia and Latin America (excluding Brazil and Mexico). Frank Miller is writing and directing the fantasy thriller about a rookie cop who returns from the dead to fight crime. Lionsgate holds domestic and U.K. rights to the film, which will be released in 2009.

'Spidey' swings to DVD in October

"Spider-Man 3" has become the second summer theatrical blockbuster to get a home video release date in the lucrative fourth-quarter sales season. The year's No. 1 movie, with a U.S. theatrical gross of $336 million, will be released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on Oct. 30 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc high-definition format. Also available are three-packs of all three "Spider-Man" movies in standard DVD and Blu-ray. The latter package, "Spider-Man High-Definition Trilogy," offers consumers the first two "Spider-Man" movies on Blu-ray Disc.

UMG shareholders OK Sanctuary buy

Universal Music Group will take London-based Sanctuary Group Plc. into private hands after winning shareholder approval for a buyout Thursday. In a statement issued just before the close of trading on the London Stock Exchange, UMG confirmed that it had reached the 90% required level of acceptance for the purchase. At least 14 days' notice will be given before the offer is closed. UMG in June announced its intention to acquire London-based Sanctuary at 20 pence ($0.40) a share in cash, valuing the company at about £44.5 million ($87.68 million). A combined UMG-Sanctuary will pool a wealth of reggae catalog and give Universal a valuable foothold in the live music business.

New York's Fox stations share Giants

NEW YORK — Fox's two local New York stations said Thursday that they had reached a programming agreement with the NFL's New York Giants. WNYW Fox 5, the market's Fox O&O station, already carries Giants games as part of the network's NFC package. Now Giants programming will be on Fox 5 and WWOR My9, a MyNetworkTV affiliate also owned by Fox Tele-vision Stations Group. The programming begins Sunday with a weekly "Giants Training Camp Report." During the season, "Giants Game Plan" will air for a half-hour at 11:30 a.m. Sundays beginning Sept. 9.

AIT to digitize 116 MJR megaplexes

Access Integrated Technologies has announced a digital-cinema deployment and preshow programming deal with MJR Theatres. Independent exhibitor MJR will convert 116 megaplex screens in seven locations to digital cinema using AccessIT's Theatre Command Center software and preshow programming and Christie DLP Cinema projectors.