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Netflix, Queen Latifah's film company strike TV distribution deal

The headquarters of Netflix is shown in Los Gatos, California September 20, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
The headquarters of Netflix is shown in Los Gatos, California September 20, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Online video streamer Netflix Inc has struck a deal to show the films produced by Flavor Unit Entertainment, the companies said on Tuesday.

The deal will give Netflix the right of first refusal over the films by the production company, which has made films such as "Beauty Shop" and "Bringing Down the House," Netflix and Flavor Unit said in a joint release.

This means the films will bypass premium cable channels like HBO and Showtime that have controlled the market of films to TV subscribers in the past.

Flavor Unit is owned by actress and rapper Queen Latifah.

"We are delighted to work with Queen Latifah to be the exclusive destination for what are sure to be relevant, entertaining movies," Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer, said in a statement.

The deal will begin in spring 2013, Netflix said.

Netflix's agreement with Flavor Unit comes on the heels of a deal it has with Walt Disney Co. in December. Disney is the first major Hollywood studio to pick Netflix over premium cable channels for its films.

The deals give a boost to the DVD rental and online video streaming company, which has struggled to grow its subscriber base and offset higher content-distribution costs.

The company broke into the television market by producing its first original series, "House of Cards," starring Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey. The 13-episode series premiered in its entirety on Netflix on February 1.

HBO is part of Time Warner Inc and Showtime is owned by CBS Corp.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Mohammed Zargham)

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