AOL TW’s ‘Ocean’ dip

WB cashes in on $55 mil TV deal for 7 pix

NEW YORK — Warner Bros. Domestic TV has landed a network-window deal for “Ocean’s Eleven” and six other movies with AOL Time Warner’s TBS, TNT and the WB.

Deal comes just two weeks after Warners sold seven theatricals, led by “Training Day” and “Cats & Dogs,” to the USA network for a license fee of close to $50 million.

For three of the movies Warners has just sold — “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Swordfish” and the Robert De Niro/Eddie Murphy starrer “Showtime” — the distrib has carved out a window following their six-month exclusive run on TBS or TNT.

CBS has the inside track for two runs of “Ocean’s Eleven” over a two-year period and for one or two runs each of “Swordfish” and “Showtime” for an 18-month period. After those runs, the three movies return to TBS, TNT and the WB for the final 54 months of the contract.

Depending on the final configuration of the deal, Warners could walk away with more than $55 million from the “Ocean’s Eleven” package.

The delayed sale of all of these movies, well after they’ve completed their run in U.S. theaters, is a testament to the softness of the marketplace for theatrical movies.

But from the evidence of the upfront selling season now wrapping up for cable, advertising dollars have rebounded, funneling more money into network coffers to buy programming. Because it was willing to wait patiently for the upturn, Warners will harvest a lot more money for the movies than it would’ve chalked up if it had panicked and force-fed them to buyers during a down economy.

TBS and TNT take title to “Swordfish” in November 2003 and “American Outlaws” and “Osmosis Jones” in December 2003. The networks get three other pictures in 2004: “Ocean’s Eleven” in June, “A Walk to Remember” in August and “Showtime” in September.

The seventh, “Cats & Dogs,” was part of the USA deal with Warners. USA and Fox will share it for three years, after which it goes to TBS and TNT for five years, beginning in June 2006.

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