Deal also includes 'Reindeer,' 'Texas'

NEW YORK — It took longer than a minute, but Time Warner/Turner’s TBS and TNT have locked up the exclusive TV network window to “Gone in 60 Seconds,” the Nicolas Cage crime thriller that could end up grossing $100 million in U.S. theaters.

“Gone in 60 Seconds” is part of a three-picture deal engineered by Disney’s Buena Vista TV that will also funnel “Reindeer Games” and the forthcoming “Texas Rangers” (starring Dylan McDermott and James Van Der Beek) to TBS and TNT. Neither Buena Vista nor TBS/TNT would comment on the deal, which may be announced as early as today.

Insiders said TBS/TNT will end up paying Buena Vista about $15 million for “60 Seconds,” whereas the disappointing “Reindeer Games” (which grossed $23.4 million in the U.S.) will fetch only $3 million or so. Miramax is not planning to release “Texas Rangers” until early 2001. “Reindeer Games” becomes available to the cable networks in late summer 2002, “60 Seconds” early in 2003.

After a period of relative inactivity over the last few months, TBS and TNT have embarked on a joint buying spree. In just the last few days, the two networks have announced that they will share the scheduling of Columbia’s “The Patriot” and Paramount hits “Mission: Impossible 2,” “Shaft” and “Rules of Engagement” with a broadcast network.

TBS and TNT have together become more aggressive than any of the Big Four broadcast nets in purchasing network-TV windows to theatrical movies. Movies make up a larger proportion of TBS’ and TNT’s primetime schedules than any other programming category.

In the next year or so, the two cablers will air such titles as “The Mummy,” “As Good as It Gets,” the two “Austin Powers” movies, “The Mask of Zorro” and “Rush Hour.”

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