‘Hannibal’ goes maxi for a mini

$18 mil for 3 runs; USA also ponys up $12 mil

NEW YORK — “Hannibal” helmer Ridley Scott will add as much as an hour of unused footage to a TV version of the hit MGM movie, which CBS will be able to run exclusively as a four-hour miniseries beginning in the November sweeps of 2003. That’s when the network window kicks in.

Jim Griffiths, president of worldwide TV distribution for MGM, says that, in effect, Scott and his editor Pietro Scalia, will be resuscitating the first theatrical cut of “Hannibal,” which came in at more than three hours. CBS does, however, retain the option to run an edited version of the theatrical without the extra footage.

In addition to the miniseries version of “Hannibal,” Griffiths revealed that MGM has sold an exclusive run to CBS and USA of “Silence of the Lambs,” the 1991 movie that introduced Anthony Hopkins in the role of Hannibal Lecter. CBS could theoretically promote a three-night parlay of the two movies.

CBS will pony up $18 million for three runs of “Hannibal” and USA will pay $12 million for multiple runs of the picture. USA will probably schedule the two-hour version of “Hannibal,” although it has the option of running a longer edition, which would be somewhat different from the CBS mini.

“Hannibal” will shift between the two networks: CBS starts with the first run in a six-month window. USA then gets a batch of runs in an 18-month window (May 2004 to October 2005). CBS will pick up its final two runs, scheduling them between November 2005 and May 2007. USA takes its final plays between June 2007 and December 2008.

Sources say both ABC and Turner’s TBS/TNT passed on “Hannibal” because of the content. NBC, the Fox Network and FX all showed an interest, but CBS, which is going for a younger demographic on the strength of such hit series as “Survivor II” and “CSI,” came up with the best offer.

In its negotiations with MGM, USA was nervous about the movie’s content. But when CBS agreed to take the first run, USA’s qualms were extinguished, according to sources.

USA has stepped up its buying of network-window theatricals in recent months, springing for such titles as “Traffic,” “Meet the Parents” and “Unbreakable.”

Because its an older movie that has made the rounds of cable and TV syndication, “Silence of the Lambs” will cost CBS about $750,000 for its one run late in 2003. USA will pay about $1.5 million to MGM for “Silence” because it gets two runs of the title, one in each of its 18-month windows.

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