Turner beats ‘Rush Hour’ traffic

Conglom rushes to nab sequel

Engineering a rare theatrical-movie pre-buy, Turner’s TNT and TBS have locked up exclusive basic-cable rights to New Line’s “Rush Hour 3” six weeks before it hits theaters.

The license-fee calculation comes to 12% of the total amount of money the movie harvests from U.S. multiplexes, with a ceiling on the domestic gross of $200 million. So if “Rush Hour 3” amasses $200 million or more, Turner would pony up $24 million for a four-year license term. If the movie grosses $100 million, Turner would shell out $12 million.

As part of the deal, Turner gets exclusive rights in the window to New Line’s Anthony Hopkins murder mystery “Fracture” and chalks up multiyear renewals of the previous two movies in the “Rush Hour” franchise.

The first “Rush Hour,” released in 1998, became a surprise hit, costing only $35 million and grossing $141 million in U.S. theaters. The second, which came out in 2001, cost $90 million and collected $226 million domestically. The “Rush Hour” stars are Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. Brett Ratner directed all three of the movies.

The beauty of “Rush Hour” for Turner is that the three pictures can play either on TNT, the home for dramas and action movies, or on TBS, which features comedies.

Before they become available to Turner, “Rush Hour 3” and “Fracture” will premiere on HBO next year in an exclusive 18-month pay-TV window. Turner picks up “Rush Hour 3” in March 2010 and “Fracture” in November 2009.

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