Projections based on boffo ratings under CBS deal

TORONTO — Alliance Atlantis expects its hit shows “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “CSI: Miami” to generate C$1 billion ($767 million) in revenues over their complete runs.

The projections, announced Wednesday, are based on the programs’ boffo ratings in accordance with a deal inked earlier this year with co-producer CBS. The deal is based on the fourth season ratings for both shows.

The original skein is the most-watched series on U.S. TV, qualifying it for hefty bonus payments. “Miami,” which is in season two, ranks sixth.

Of the projected $767 million, Alliance Atlantis expects a gross profit of about $383 million and a pretax cash flow of $249 million between the next fiscal year and fiscal 2008.

“From 2009 on, we are forecasting an additional $230 million in pretax cash flow for ‘CSI,’ ” said chief financial officer and senior exec veep Jud Martin.

Martin reported that about 76% of that forecast revenue is already contracted, and said that Alliance Atlantis “is very confident in ‘CSI’s’ ability to achieve the forecasts we are presenting today.”

Alliance Atlantis is interested in producing a third “CSI” spinoff, though execs stressed the importance of not cutting into the success of the first two.

Executives also told financial analysts that the new Movie Distribution Income Fund, a spinoff that owns 49% of Alliance Atlantis’ distribution business and was created to help slash debt and finance future growth, has raised $195 million.

Chairman-CEO Michael MacMillan said the company couldn’t be more pleased with the result.

Alliance Atlantis’ debt stands at $323 million, down from a high of $560 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2002.

Shares of the company closed up 28¢ at $17.93 on Nasdaq on Thursday.

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