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Summary:

With its content deal with premium cable channel Starz set to expire next week, Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) is moving quickly to fill the void of p…

The Artist
photo: Warner Bros / The Weinstein Company

With its content deal with premium cable channel Starz set to expire next week, Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) is moving quickly to fill the void of prestige titles on its streaming catalog. The company has reached an agreement with The Weinstein Company to stream foreign language, documentary and other select movies on its service. The immediate upside: Netflix will have streaming rights to the overwhelming Oscar Best Picture favorite, The Artist.

Michel Hazanavicius’ subtitled silent film will be up for 17 10 Academy Awards on Sunday and will make its pay-TV premiere on Netflix instead of premium cable. So will Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin’s Undefeated, a Best Documentary nominee about a Memphis inner-city football team attempting to rise above perennial doormat status.

If either of these films wins an Oscar, that will take the PR edge off the fact that Starz Play officially goes dark on Netflix next week — that deal gave the streaming company access to Disney (NYSE: DIS) and Sony (NYSE: SNE) titles during their pay TV windows. With Weinstein principals Harvey and Bob Weinstein basing a big part of their business strategy on prestige adult dramas like last year’s Best Picture winner, The King’s Speech, the content deal gives Netflix access to premium movie titles that play well to an audience of affluent early adopters.

Terms of the Weinstein deal were not announced. But given Weinstein’s status as an independent niche movie distributor, the agreement is undoubtedly nowhere near the $300 million or so that analysts said would be required to renew the Starz streaming deal.

With media companies like Starz demanding tenfold increases to renew the streaming agreements they made early on, and competition on the streaming front emerging from not just Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), but a new joint venture from Verizon and Redbox, having an Oscar winner on its catalog for a reasonable licensing price certainly will help Netflix.

While King’s Speech wasn’t listed in Tuesday’s announcement, Netflix will get access to the French-language World War II drama Sarah’s Key, the French box-office record breaking The Intouchables and the Madonna-directed Golden Globe-winner W.E. The Weinstein pact comes several months after Netflix struck a deal with DreamWorks Animation, rendering high-profile family titles like Kung Fu Panda 2 available in the pay TV window.

“We couldn’t be happier to be working again with Harvey and Bob, who have an unmatched track record of creating critically acclaimed and commercially successful movies,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement. “The Artist is a symbol of the Weinsteins’ triumphant return to the top of the film business.Through deep passion, great taste and phenomenal vision, Harvey and Bob continue to surprise audiences and make history.”

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  1. THE ARTIST has 10 nominations; not 17.  No film in history has ever gotten 17 nominations.  The record is a tie between ALL ABOUT EVE and TITANIC, both with 14.

    Since the StarzPlay titles were rarely in correct aspect ratio, I won’t miss them at all.

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    1. Jay: Thanks for the heads-up — I have struck through and corrected. 

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