Ted Turner’s planned new cable network, Turner Classic Movies, has bought exclusive rights to 300 Paramount theatrical pictures made between 1948 and the mid-’80s.
Although Turner and Paramount declined to discuss prices, sources say Turner will probably pony up about $ 30 million over the life of the deal. The arrangement kicks in early next year and, as the movies slide in and out of previously committed windows, could stretch well into the first decade of the 21 st century.
Among the titles are “True Grit,””Roman Holiday,””Sunset Boulevard,””To Catch a Thief,””Ordinary People,””Urban Cowboy,””Chinatown,””Saturday Night Fever, “”Serpico,” and the first three movies in the “Star Trek” series.
Conspicuously missing are the “Godfather” movies, which one source says Turner rejected because of excessive violence.
“We want our schedulers to have access to the largest pool of movies from as many different studios as we can make deals with,” said Brad Siegel, executive VP of Turner’s TNT cable network and the point man for TCM, which will be up and running sometime “in early 1994.”
TCM will tap into the Turner library, which consists of about 4,000 movies (all of the MGM output, all pre-1948 Warner Bros. pictures and all of the RKO movies).
But Siegel says he wants to go well beyond the Turner library to be able to follow an actor’s movie work throughout his entire career, and for that purpose TCM will need to buy movies from the other major studios. He adds that more deals like the Paramount transaction are in the works.
“TCM will be looking to give its programmers lots of creative latitude to schedule festivals like the best of Barbara Stanwyck or a week of musicals or a Stanley Kubrick retrospective,” Siegel said.
As a former head of programming for the American Movie Classics cable network , Siegel plans to structure TCM in a similar way, with a low-key host introducing the movies, which will have no commercial interruptions.
Unlike AMC, though, the word “American” is not a part of the TCM title, so Siegel says he’ll be able to schedule international films, such as the U.K.’s “Chariots of Fire,” Australia’s “Gallipoli” and Italy’s “Cinema Paradiso.”
“I’m hoping we become such a complete service that there won’t be a reason for anybody else to start up any more movie networks,” Siegel said.