Cabler antes up to license hit Fox pic trio

NEW YORK — FX and CBS have purchased the rights to four 20th Century Fox theatrical movies: “Behind Enemy Lines,” “Don’t Say a Word,” “High Crimes” and “Black Knight.”

FX will get first crack at “Behind Enemy Lines,” “Don’t Say a Word” and “Black Knight.” After a six month exclusive window, “Lines” and “Word” will shift to CBS, while Eye sibling UPN will get a crack at “Knight.”

Eye also has the right to air “Lines” and “Word” on UPN after they premiere on CBS.

A spokeswoman for Twentieth TV confirmed the FX portion of the deal; CBS had no comment.

After a limited number of runs on CBS or UPN, FX then will get all four movies back for at least a 3½-year term. The total license fee for “Enemy Lines” and “Word” will come to $7 million-$8 million and for “Black Knight” to $4.5 million-$5 million.

The titles are important to FX because the network embarked on a new strategy of scheduling an 8 o’clock movie every night starting in July after failing to draw acceptable ratings for reruns of the Twentieth TV series “The Practice” and “Ally McBeal.”

CBS, meanwhile, gets the chance to air the pics at a much-reduced license fee vs. the cost of having the pics exclusively.

FX researchers say the movie blueprint is paying off: The net averaged a 0.91 primetime rating in cable homes for July 2002, the highest-rated July in FX’s history. The movies helped to catapult FX into the top 10 among basic-cable networks for July in households and in all of the key young-adult demographics.

Individual titles that scored include “Independence Day” (a 2.3 rating in cable homes on July 28), “Die Hard — With a Vengeance” (1.6 on July 13), “Starship Troopers” (a 1.3 on July 18) and “Mrs. Doubtfire” (also a 1.3 on July 7).

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