‘Bruce’ loose on TV

Nets restart push for pix

NEW YORK — The depressed marketplace for theatrical movies got a jolt with the revelation Wednesday that Fox and USA have jointly bought the rights to “Bruce Almighty” and “2 Fast 2 Furious,” and NBC and FX have agreed to share “The Italian Job.”

Because demand was high for “Bruce Almighty” and “2 Fast 2 Furious,” distributor Universal could end up pocketing close to $50 million for the two, or close to 15% of the domestic box office gross of the pair. USA will pay a bigger percentage of the license fee than Fox because USA will get the titles first, with an availability date of March 2006.

Similarly, “The Italian Job,” a surprise success this summer that could end up grossing $90 million-$100 million in U.S. theaters, may fetch upward of $12 million from NBC and FX, giving Paramount a nice payday for the caper movie.

U received a gift from the gods when the 1997 Jim Carrey comedy “Liar Liar” harvested 2.73 million households on USA during a special network presentation May 18. That number caused the industry to take notice, enhancing the glow surrounding “Bruce Almighty,” a box office-winning return to the madcap Carrey. Pic has grossed $227 million domestically and is still tracking.

“2 Fast 2 Furious” was a no-brainer for USA, a sister company of Universal which pre-bought original “The Fast and the Furious” in a shared window with ABC for $22 million two years ago.

Fox replaced ABC in the network window for “2 Fast 2 Furious” because ABC has shifted some of its primetime focus to family oriented programming, whereas Fox still schedules lots of shows appealing to young males, the target audience for “2 Fast 2 Furious.”

With “Italian Job,” FX has also agreed to buy Paramount sci-fi movie “The Core,” which managed to gross only $31.1 million when the studio released it in the U.S. three months ago.

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