Network ponys up $60 million for TV rights

USA has engineered one of the biggest movie deals in the cabler’s history, ponying up about $60 million for network TV rights to “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry” and nine other theatricals from Universal Pictures.

For “Bourne” and “Chuck & Larry,” USA will shell out 12% of the domestic box office of each movie, with a ceiling if “Bourne” soars into the $300 million stratosphere. Based on their current B.O. performance, USA could wind up spending $24 million on “Bourne” and $15 million on “Chuck & Larry.”

Among the nine other titles in the package are “The Good Shepherd,” “Children of Men,” “Breach” and “Man of the Year.”

USA takes title to “Bourne” on Jan. 1, 2010, and to “Chuck & Larry” on Dec. 1, 2009, after the pics complete their 18-month exclusive runs in the pay TV window on HBO. USA gets 4½ years in its license term.

As in most big-title deals of this kind, USA is permitting Universal to carve out as many as three separate two-month windows for one run apiece of “Bourne” and “Chuck & Larry” to sell to a broadcast network during the course of the 4½-year contract.

Separately, after USA has taken multiple plays of “Bourne” and “Chuck & Larry” through early 2012, U can sell a few runs of each title to another basic-cable net.

USA has fallen in love with movies again after easing off on theatrical purchases in recent years, lagging behind its more aggressive competitors FX and TNT/TBS. Last month, USA bought “Ocean’s Thirteen” and “Blood Diamond” from Warner Bros. and picked up “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” from Buena Vista.

One of the nine titles in the Universal deal is Focus Features’ 2002 pic “Ali G Indahouse,” starring Sacha Baron Cohen, which will be available to USA to play as a companion to “Borat,” featuring another of Baron Cohen’s far-out characters. USA bought “Borat” from 20th Century Fox in March for $11 million.

Two of the nine, “The Hitcher” and “Children of Men,” will also be playable on USA’s Sci Fi Channel sibling. The remaining three titles are “Alpha Dog,” “Smokin’ Aces” and “The Interpreter.”

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