Revolution-ary gain

27 features spin $40 mil in TV syndie coin

NEW YORK — The first 27 theatricals produced by Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios are well on their way to racking up gross revenues of about $40 million in TV syndication thanks to a commitment from 13 Fox-owned TV stations, including O&Os outlets in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

“The Fox stations alone represent 30% of the country, but we have offers in most of the rest of the top-100 markets,” said Mort Marcus, who with partner Ira Bernstein runs Debmar Studios, one of the most active indie distributors in the U.S. “Within the next two weeks, we’ll probably have the movies sold to stations in 90% of the country.”

Marcus declined to discuss the specifics of the deal, but the stations don’t pony up any cash. Instead, Debmar pockets its revenues exclusively from advertisers who buy the 14 minutes of advertising time held back in each two-hour timeslot by the distrib. (The stations get the remaining 14 commercial minutes to sell locally.)

The first Revolution movie becomes available to stations in January with “New Guy.” Debmar’s deal calls for the station to schedule two runs of each movie within a 30-day window during the first go-round, plus two more double runs of the title within the next two years or so.

Depending on the health of the advertising marketplace at the time, Debmar could harvest an average of about $1.5 million a title for the total of six runs. Multiplying $1.5 million by the 27 movies yields $40 million.

For calendar 2006, the stations follow “New Guy” in February with “Punch Drunk Love” (Adam Sandler), “Tomcats” in March and “Master of Disguise” (Dana Carvey) in April. The titles in 2007 include “America’s Sweethearts,” “Maid in Manhattan” and “Black Hawk Down.”

Marcus said many of these pictures will reach stations earlier than the titles in most major-studio movie packages because Debmar has set up the windows to occur before the second pay TV window. John Malone’s Starz owns exclusive pay TV rights to all of the Revolution movies.

Fox O&Os and affiliates probably will play the movies on Saturday or Sunday, either in late afternoon or at 11 p.m. A UPN station could play the movies in primetime on Saturday or Sunday, when the network doesn’t schedule any programming, and stations affiliated with the WB have primetime available on Saturday.

As part of the deal with the Fox stations, Debmar has agreed to turn the sale of the 14 national minutes over to Fox sister company Twentieth TV.

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