‘300’ set to invade TNT

Network buys cable rights for $17 million

The Spartans have brought their swords to TNT, which will pay about $17 million for the cable rights to “300.”

Warner Bros. Domestic Cable TV had talked to a number of other cable networks but settled on TNT when it agreed to take the movie for only a three-year license term instead of the usual four- or five-year deal.

TNT also will allow Warner Bros. to carve out a window to sell “300” to another network, broadcast or cable, after the first year of the TNT deal.

In exchange, Warner Bros. will allow TNT to funnel “300” to its video-on-demand platform for a few months during the three-year term, a concession the network pushed for because cable operators like Comcast are demanding robust VOD spinoffs of every basic-cable network. At the insistence of Warner Bros., these VOD services will not cost subscribers any extra monthly fees.

Although “300” is laced with hard-R-rated violence, TNT said it will be able to edit out the most extreme blood and gore without harming the movie’s integrity.

One unusual aspect of the deal is that Warner Bros. didn’t sell other, less successful, movies along with “300.” One of the reasons the studio didn’t have to include other pictures is that more cable networks are buying movies. Warner Bros. didn’t have to push “License to Wed” on TNT, for example, because Oxygen already bought a window to the chick flick starring Robin Williams and Mandy Moore.

TNT gets “300” for its first burst of multiple runs in September 2009, a few months after the movie completes its first 18-month window on HBO.

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