Summer's biggest so-far grosser set for 2002

Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible 2,” the biggest grossing movie of the summer so far, has finally found a broadcast-network home at CBS after a couple of weeks of high-spirited bidding by ABC and Fox.

The Eye will pay around $23 million for five runs of the pic over four years, starting in late 2002.

Sources said that, despite the sibling connection between Paramount and CBS (both are divisions of Viacom), Par kept the bidding fair and open, reinforcing the conviction held by ABC and Fox that each had a shot at getting it.

Turner Broadcasting’s TBS and TNT had previously locked up the cable part of the first broadcast window to “M:I-2″ (Daily Variety, July 14), buying a series of plays in the fifth year of the five-year contract.

The pic has grossed $208 million in U.S. theaters and is still tracking, so it may end up costing CBS and Turner a combined fee north of $30 million.

In another joint-window purchase, ABC and Turner will share in the New Line movie “Frequency,” which is near the end of its run and has grossed $43.5 million domestically, putting its license fee to in the $6 million-$7 million range.

Various people involved in the “M:I-2″ negotiations say that — in order to guard against any lawsuits by profit participants — Par dutifully shipped all of its network offers to the star and co-exec producer Tom Cruise and his partner Paula Wagner for vetting.

ABC had paid through both nostrils for the first “Mission: Impossible” theatrical, years before Viacom merged with CBS. But when Par convinced ABC that there was going to be no sweetheart deal with CBS on the sequel, ABC went after it. Fox also put in a bid because it skeds movies as big events, often in sweep periods to pump up the ratings.

Fox went so far as to blow out the pay TV window for “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” so it could get the movie 20 months sooner than the usual broadcast window.

CBS has ramped up its movie-buying recently, securing a first play on Par’s “Rules of Engagement” and second plays (following a burst of runs on Turner’s TBS/TNT) on “The Patriot” and Par’s “Shaft.”

Meanwhile, Par has sold ABC a limited run of the family pic “Snow Day,” giving the net two runs over three years. The studio will likely generate up to $55 million from its sales of “MI:2,” “Shaft” and “Rules.”

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