Arrangement valued at up to $450 mil, sources say

NEW YORK — In an unprecedented film licensing deal, Turner Broadcasting System has bought out the broadcast network window to the theatrical movies produced by DreamWorks through 2015.

Sources say the deal is valued at $350 million-$450 million, with prices adjusted according to box office performance. While Turner has bought the broadcast window for theatricals before, this marks the first time a cable company has sealed a broadcast window output deal with a major studio.

The deal will give Turner nets access to up to 60 of the studio’s titles, including “Gladiator,” “American Beauty,” “Cast Away” and the upcoming “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.”

Cadillac city

“Here’s a studio that has produced 27 theatricals at an average domestic box office of $80 million each, triple the MPAA average for 1999. That’s a studio with an assembly line that’s producing Cadillacs,” said Robert H. Levi, president of worldwide program planning and acquisitions for Turner Entertainment Group, who orchestrated the deal.

In April 1999, Turner bought out the TV syndication window to DreamWorks movies, but that deal only lasts for five years and didn’t include some animated titles or Spielberg-directed pics.

Turner nets will be able to air the pics following their broadcast run on ABC, which locked in the first broadcast window to DreamWorks theatricals in 1997. HBO has the exclusive pay window for DreamWorks theatricals.

ABC has a three-and-a-half-year window on all theatricals, after which Turner can air them for two years. Then, they get a second play on HBO before returning to Turner for five years.

Turner will air “Peacemaker,” its first DreamWorks pic, in fall 2002.

DreamWorks’ animated titles “Chicken Run,” “The Prince of Egypt,” “Antz” and “The Road to El Dorado” will air on Turner-owned Cartoon Network. Among the other pics in the deal are “What Lies Beneath,” “Almost Famous” and “The Contender.”

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