Turner nabs cable TV rights to 'Happyness'

Cable TV loves Will Smith, and depending on the final domestic box office gross of his latest hit “The Pursuit of Happyness,” Turner’s TNT and TBS could end up paying upward of $30 million for the first network window of “Happyness” and two other Columbia titles.

TNT will get the first batch of runs of “Happyness” starting in April 2009 as part of a four-year deal. Package includes the animated “Open Season” (available January ’09), which grossed $84.3 million in U.S. theaters, and “The Holiday” (available February ’09), which chalked up $63 million domestically.

In addition to the cable TV rights, TNT and TBS have harvested video-on-demand rights to the three titles for the first six months of their cable availability. These rights have become more important to cable networks as they strive to beef up their on-demand programming to meet the requests of cable operators like Comcast and Time Warner, which have become gung-ho about VOD, claiming their subscribers dote on it.

With “The Holiday,” Lifetime will pony up about $1.5 million for two separate one-year windows. The first “Holiday” window comes in the third year of the TBS deal and — following the movie’s final TBS runs — in the sixth year of the deal.

Columbia’s sibling Sony Pictures TV, as distributor, reserves the right to sell “Happyness” and “Open Season” in similar windows to a broadcast network or another cable network.

TBS shelled out about $25 million for Smith’s previous theatrical hit, “Hitch,” also from Columbia, and TBS has gotten years of mileage out of Smith’s Warner Bros. TV series “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

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