A correction was made to this article on Mar. 7, 2004.
The USA Network — which recently locked up cable rights to high-visibility theatricals “50 First Dates” and “Elf” — engineered another deal Monday, buying the first network play of “Along Came Polly” and three other Universal titles: “Love Actually,” “Intolerable Cruelty” and “Honey.”
And in a separate deal, NBC has bought “Lost in Translation” from Universal, which is also in negotiation with a cable network (not USA) to share the runs with NBC.
For “Polly,” the comedy with Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston that has grossed $86 million in domestic multiplexes, USA will share the network window with NBC, with the joint license fee likely to reach upwards of $14 million, depending on the pic’s final gross in theaters.
USA gets the first plays of “Polly” starting in the fall of 2006, with NBC coming in early in 2007; the movie then shifts between USA and NBC through 2011.
USA will share the window of “Honey,” the urban hip-hop drama starring Jessica Alba, with the WB. USA gets the first burst of runs, followed by one run on the WB, with “Honey” going back and forth two more times over a four-year license term. USA and the WB together could end up paying about $4 million for “Honey.”
For “Love Actually” and “Intolerable Cruelty,” USA, which has each of them for a three-year license term, has given Universal the right to find another buyer, either a broadcast network or a cable net, to share the runs.
Although Universal is a sibling of USA, the network has also done deals with other studios for theatricals, such as Columbia for “50 First Dates” and New Line for “Elf.”
USA has used theatricals to stay near the top of the Nielsen ratings among basic-cable networks in primetime in the last few years.
Some of its aggressive buying two and three years ago will give USA a bounty of strong titles this year, including “Hannibal,” “Training Day,” “Jurassic Park,” “Notting Hill” and “Spy Game.”