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Warner inks Teuton tie-up

Studio pacts with ProSiebenSat 1 for $300 mil

Warner Bros. has inked a program supply deal with German commercial powerhouse ProSiebenSat 1, which could be worth $300 million to the Hollywood studio over the next three years.

Deal will provide the multichannel Teutonic broadcasting group with first choice on new TV series produced and distribbed abroad by Warner Bros. through the 2009-10 season, as well as almost 75 movie titles on the studio’s release slate for the next three years.

The hefty pricetag is in keeping with the healthy state of the foreign market for U.S. shows, especially dramas, and for A-list movies that can be programmed as appointment television.

Arrangement with ProSiebenSat 1 would be for the life of the TV skeins involved.

Other dramas or sitcoms outside the deal could be licensed by Warner Bros. separately to other German players.

Warners has been the largest supplier of primetime fare to the American networks for several years, placing as many as a dozen newcomers in some seasons.

ProSieben likely has agreed to choose half a dozen new series in each of the next three seasons.

On the movie front, the German company eventually will air the studio’s movie slates for the next three years starting in January, including a new “Harry Potter,” “Ocean’s 13,” an epic called “10,000 B.C.,” helmed by Roland Emmerich, as well as New Line’s planned trilogy based on Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials,” and “Rush Hour 3.” There also will be a new “Batman” and probably a new “Superman” by 2009.

For the last several years, the bulk of Warner product in Germany was licensed to Munich-based media tycoon Herbert Kloiber, who often sold that product to third parties, including some series to the ProSieben group.

Kloiber’s deal with Warners ends with this season’s TV newcomers (several of which have already been canceled or are underperforming Stateside, including “Smith,” “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” and “Twenty Good Years”), which are arguably not as strong as those of the past several seasons.

On the movie front, Kloiber has the rights for Warners’ current hit “The Departed” (as well as the clunker “Poseidon”) and likely will end his deal on a happy note with the studio’s upcoming kids movie “Happy Feet.”

Warner Bros. Intl. TV prexy Jeffrey Schlesinger declined to comment on the new deal with ProSieben, in keeping with most of the Hollywood studios’ policies of letting the buying client abroad announce their acquisitions — or not.

ProSiebenSat 1, which is majority owned by U.S.-based media mogul Haim Saban, also is keeping mum on the deal.

(Ed Meza in Berlin contributed to this report.)

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