WB to preem 'Fellowship' later this year

February sweeps may have just ended, but the WB is already looking to the November contest.

The WB and Turner, which share broadcast rights to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, have agreed to give the Frog first crack at the movie package. “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” will premiere on the WB during November sweeps.

The WB banded together with Turner sibs TBS and TNT two years ago and agreed to pay handsomely for the television rights to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy (Daily Variety, Feb. 1, 2002). Given the boffo B.O. for all three, rights may have gone as high as $160 million for the three films.

Deal wasn’t a total surprise, given that WB, TBS, TNT and film distrib New Line are all part of the Time Warner family. But it marked the beginning of an aggressive play by the WB to get into the theatrical broadcast rights business. “The WB made a huge bet on this franchise a couple of years back and that has paid off in a way we never dreamed,” said WB topper Jordan Levin.

Frog will air “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” in fall 2005 and premieres “The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King,” the recent winner of 11 Oscars, in fall 2006.

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