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Eye buys Bond pic for $20 mil

Anticipating a strong theatrical bow on Friday, CBS has agreed to pay MGM at least $20 million for exclusive broadcast TV rights to the latest James Bond film, “Tomorrow Never Dies.”

The $20 million pricetag is the highest ever paid for TV rights to a Bond film, and MGM will receive substantial increases beyond that floor price if the domestic box office surpasses $100 million, sources say.

The last film in the Bond franchise, the 1995 release “Goldeneye,” grossed $106 million domestically and was sold to NBC for about $12 million.

Competish high for TV rights

Competition for TV rights to theatrical movies has dramatically increased over the past year, especially from networks, such as CBS, not aligned with studios. CBS secured rights to “Tomorrow Never Dies” after aggressive bids, including one for $15 million, from basic cablers USA Network and TNT.

While $20 million was a record price for TV rights to a movie when ABC bought “Mission: Impossible” back in 1996, Fox has since paid $80 million for “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and NBC paid more than $50 million for “Men in Black.”

The CBS broadcast window for “Tomorrow Never Dies” begins in the year 2000 following Showtime’s exclusive pay TV window. The Eye web will receive five runs of the film over a five-year period before the movie goes to basic cable.

Option for next Bond pic

As part of the deal, CBS also gets an option to purchase the next Bond film from MGM.

CBS and MGM had no comment on the film sale, but to sweeten the deal, the Eye web has purchased a one-hour special from MGM called “The Secrets of 007: The James Bond Files.”

The special, which will take a behind-the-scenes look at the making of “Tomorrow Never Dies” and other Bond films, will air on CBS Dec. 24 at 9 p.m.

“Tomorrow Never Dies,” starring Pierce Brosnan as Bond, as well as Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh and Teri Hatcher, is the 18th installment in the James Bond franchise, the longest-running franchise in film history.

The film, from Albert Broccoli’s Eon Prods., is released by United Artists Pictures and distributed by MGM Distribution Co.

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