LOS ANGELES – Syfy, the cable channel behind such series as "Warehouse 13" and the "Ghost Hunters" reality shows, is getting into the movie business.
The channel, part of NBC Universal, said Wednesday it will join with sister company Universal Pictures to release one to two films a year with budgets between $5 million and $25 million starting in 2012. The joint venture will be called Syfy Films.
The company will make movies in the science fiction, fantasy, supernatural and horror genres that are meant to be new franchises outside of ones that are already on television.
That means that it won't get involved in the "Battlestar Galactica" movie that is in development at Universal and which has "X-Men" director Bryan Singer set to direct. "Battlestar Galactica" was hugely popular on the Syfy channel from 2004 to 2009.
"First and foremost we're looking for new projects," said Syfy president Dave Howe. "A Bryan Singer blockbuster movie is not within the remit of this partnership."
Howe said there is plenty of opportunity to make sci-fi movies without resorting to huge budgets. He cited movies such as "District 9," "Cloverfield," "Paranormal Activity," and "Pan's Labyrinth," as models. "That's a level and quality of production values that is very achievable with what we're working with," he said.
Syfy Films will get a marketing push by having advertisements on the channel. Universal, which sold its horror label Rogue Pictures to financing partner Relativity Media LLC last year, will distribute the films.
Syfy is the second best-rated channel among the NBC Universal stable, behind only USA Network, and is distributed in 72 territories around the world.
Cable TV company Comcast Corp. is set to take 51 percent control of NBC Universal in a merger deal that is awaiting government approval. Current owner General Electric Co. would own a 49 percent stake in NBC Universal that will be gradually unwound.