Sharing ‘MIB2’ not alien to ABC, Fox, Turner

PPV, DVD hurt feature film ratings on webs, cablers

ABC, Fox and Turner have struck a $30 million deal with Sony to share the broadcast window of summer blockbuster “Men in Black II.”

Deal reps one of the first times two nonrelated broadcast networks have shared the initial window of a theatrical movie. Broadcasters and cablers began splitting windows around five years ago; more recently, Turner has started to carve out runs for sib broadcaster the WB, although usually late in its deals.

Under the pact, Fox gets the first run of “Men in Black II,” followed by two airings at ABC. Fox then gets “MIB2” for one more run before Turner takes it over for four years. Turner will pay the lion’s share of the deal.

“MIB2” grossed $190.4 million domestically, with an additional $235.2 million overseas.

Bottom-line change

The dual ABC/Fox “MIB2” deal indicates how the economics of airing theatricals have changed at the broadcast webs. While net premieres of major features once guaranteed a decent Nielsen rating, the popularity of pay-per-view, pay cable and now DVDs means a movie has been well-sampled by the time it hits the webs.

By splitting windows, studios such as Sony have managed to maintain their license fees on major releases.

Sony has struck a number of major theatrical deals in recent months with a wide variety of outlets, including Fox and Turner, which are sharing features such as “Spider-Man” and “Mr. Deeds.”

Turner and CBS jointly bought Sony’s “Panic Room” and “Enough,” while Disney will spread out runs of Sony’s “Stuart Little 2” among ABC, ABC Family and Disney Channel.

As a non-network aligned studio, Sony has managed to strike deals with five of the six broadcast nets, save NBC, this summer, in addition to cablers Turner, Comedy Central, ABC Family and Disney Channel.

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