Network secures cable rights to quartet

Lifetime has bought cable TV rights to four pics from Warner Bros.: “The Lake House,” “Rumor Has It,” “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and “North Country.”

As is true of most movie sales to cable, Lifetime has agreed to share three of the titles with another network: “Lake House” and “Rumor Has It” with Oxygen, which gets the first plays of the two movies, and “Sisterhood” with ABC Family, which gets multiple runs during the first year of the contract while Lifetime gets the final four years.

“North Country” is exclusive to Lifetime.

Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution pocketed an estimated $16.5 million from the combined license fees of the deals.

“We weren’t buying that many theatricals three or four years ago,” said Leslie Chesloff, senior VP of acquisitions for Lifetime. “But these pictures will add diversity to our lineup of movies — they often give us a rating spike.”

Lifetime has begun to cut back on the volume of primetime movies that were its stock in trade for a few years, running off two every weeknight at 7 and 9.

By shifting on Oct. 30 to reruns of the sitcoms “Still Standing” at 7 and 7:30 and “Reba” at 8 and 8:30, Lifetime has boosted its ratings among women 18-34 and 18-49 by an average of 34% in November and December compared with movies in the time period in 2005.

Chesloff said the “Reba” lead-in has lowered the average age of viewers of the 9 p.m. movie. The sitcoms also have allowed Lifetime to rest the movies for longer periods before rerunning them.

Other movies the net has bought recently include Fox’s “Little Manhattan,” the Weinstein Co.’s “Derailed,” Lionsgate’s “Akeelah and the Bee” and, as previously reported, Universal’s “The Break-Up.”

Chesloff said she’s also doing more cherrypicking of titles from the major studios’ libraries, buying such evergreens as “Pretty Woman,” “Miss Congeniality” and “The American President.”

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