FX slithers up for 'Snakes'

FX has engineered a rare preemptive bid to buy exclusive cable rights to New Line’s “Snakes on a Plane” in advance of its Aug. 18 bow.

The cabler declined to comment, but it will probably end up paying about 12% of the pic’s domestic gross. That percentage will be capped at about $150 million, so the maximum license fee would fall below $20 million.

New Line has the right to sell one or more runs of “Snakes” to a broadcast net for a separate license fee within FX’s four-year license term. FX will get the network window premiere of the movie, beginning in the second quarter of 2009. In the earlier pay TV window, “Snakes” goes to HBO, which has a theatrical output deal with New Line.

New Line has begun the marketing campaign for “Snakes,” but the movie is already a pop-culture event thanks to armies of bloggers flooding cyberspace with chatter about the title. And the video of Cobra Starship’s “Snakes on a Plane (Bring It)” theme song hit MTV’s rotation this month.

One of the most aggressive movie buyers among cable networks, FX bought the cable rights to Warner Bros.’ “Superman Returns” six months before the movie’s theatrical release.

FX can’t wait to get its hand on “Snakes” because it has also bought cable rights to “Flightplan,” Buena Vista’s hit woman-in-jeopardy-on-an-airplane movie starring Jodie Foster.

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