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‘Hitch’ finds niche at TBS/TNT in pic pact

Deal includes 'Grudge,' 'Spanglish'

NEW YORK — TBS and its sister network TNT have bought the cable-exclusive first network window to Will Smith’s weekend hit “Hitch” from Sony Pictures TV in a three-picture deal that includes “The Grudge” and “Spanglish.”

The license fee TBS/TNT will pony up could climb above a strapping $40 million for the three movies, based on the fact that Sony was able to ramp up demand for the movie among multiple cable networks. The final payment won’t get pinned down until “Hitch” reaches the end of its theatrical run because the fees are pegged to a percentage of the domestic box office gross. “Hitch” is coming off an opening weekend of $45.3 million, a record for a romantic comedy.

“This was an easy decision because we’ve done great with Will Smith since we began running his ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ series many years ago,” said Steve Koonin, executive VP and chief operating officer of TBS and TNT.

TBS, which focuses on comedy movies and series, will get “Hitch” and “Spanglish” and TNT, whose motto is “We know drama,” will run “The Grudge.” All three will be available by May 2007.

As part of the deal, Sony will carve out two one-year windows within the TBS/TNT five-year license term for sale of the movies to a broadcast network. The first of the carveouts will be February 2008 to January 2009, and the second from February 2010 to January 2011.

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