NL, Lions Gate team on TV pic pact

Deal to be intro'd at next week's NATPE convention

New Line TV and Lions Gate Entertainment have formed an alliance to sell a 20-title movie package to TV stations in syndication, featuring theatricals such as “Friday After Next,” “American History X,” “Gods & Monsters” and “Mortal Kombat.”

If the parties are able to scare up a healthy demand in the syndie marketplace, the package could gross up to $5 million over all.

David Spiegelman, senior executive VP of domestic-TV distribution and marketing for New Line, declined to comment on dollar figures but said, “We’ve had success selling syndicated movies in the past because stations get the flexibility of playing the titles when they want to.”

Unlike New Line/Lions Gate’s terms for these pictures, when the major studios put a movie package into syndication, they often carve out a window of two or three weeks for a specific title and force all of the stations to play the movie in that time frame.

And for the most popular titles, stations may not get their first shot at running them until eight years or more after they’ve played in theaters. Also, these stations have to hand over 14 minutes or more of commercial time within each movie to the distributor to sell to national advertisers.

New Line, which is handling the syndication sale of the package because it has contributed 15 of the 20 titles, instead is offering the movies in a straight cash sale, Spiegelman said, permitting stations to take as many as three runs of each picture in a 12-month window. Stations can get their hands on as many as half the titles in the bundle within the next two to three years, he added.

The package will get its formal introduction at next week’s National Assn. of TV Program Executives convention in New Orleans.

Ira Bernstein, president of worldwide TV distribution for Lions Gate, said he thinks the cash-only package will stir interest at NATPE because “the national-advertising marketplace for syndication is sucking wind.” Chilled by the potential of such low ad dollars, movie distributors become reluctant to tie up their movies even for just a two- or three-week window many years into the future.

Other New Line titles in the bundle include “All About the Benjamins,” “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Don Juan DeMarco,” “Pump Up the Volume” and “Ripley’s Game.”

“Swimming with Sharks” and “Eve’s Bayou” are among the other Lions Gate titles.

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