Slow marketplace makes pics hard sell

NEW YORK — Turner Broadcasting’s TNT and TBS have purchased a four-year network window to Miramax’s two biggest recent theatrical hits, “The Others” and “Serendipity,” for about $20 million.

The movies were a hard sell for Miramax because of the depressed marketplace for movies among both broadcast and cable nets. The trend toward more series and fewer movies on the broadcast networks’ primetime schedules, accelerated by the decline in the ratings for theatricals and the soft advertising climate, has kept the Big Four from bidding aggressively for theatricals in the last few months.

Turner held out until Miramax agreed to carve out a window of 12 months within the four-year contract for the possible sale of two runs of the movies to a broadcast network. If Miramax pulls off such a sale, the license fee incurred by TBS and TNT would go down by an unspecified percentage.

Comedy, thriller

The Turner networks get “Others,” a supernatural thriller with Nicole Kidman, in May 2004, and “Serendipity,” a romantic comedy with John Cusack, in July 2004, each for a six-month window.

Miramax would get calendar 2005 for its hoped-for sale of the pictures to a broadcaster. Then the movies would go back to TBS and TNT for a 3½ year exclusive license term for the balance of the contract.

John Malone’s Starz! has the exclusive pay TV window to “Others” and “Serendipity,” which become available about a year after their debut in the multiplexes.

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