Lionsgate deal includes 'Witless,' 'Lord,' 'Mix'

TBS’s love affair with Tyler Perry continues to smolder, ignited by its deal with Lionsgate to pre-buy Perry’s “Meet the Browns,” which opens in theaters Friday.

“Browns,” a comedy/drama starring Perry (in a dual role) and Angela Bassett, is the key title in a four-picture transaction between Turner Broadcasting’s TBS/TNT and Lionsgate valued at between $8 million and $10 million, depending on how well “Browns” does at the box office. The three other titles are “Witless Protection,” starring Larry the Cable Guy; “Lord of War,” with Nicolas Cage; and “In the Mix,” starring Usher.

“Turner is keeping up with the Tyler Perry franchise and the Larry the Cable Guy franchise in this deal,” said Rand Stoll, executive VP of television for Lionsgate.

Stoll is referring to TBS’ purchase of four previous Perry theatricals: “Why Did I Get Married?,” “Daddy’s Little Girls,” “Madea’s Family Reunion” and “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” TBS also bought the two earlier Cable Guy vehicles, “Delta Farce” and “Health Inspector.”

TBS has also scored solidly in the ratings with the weekly firstrun sitcom “House of Payne,” produced by Perry, a Wednesday-night staple of the network since last summer.

One advantage of the new deal for Turner is that it will be able to start playing “Lord of War” and “In the Mix” this spring. “Witless Protection” becomes available in July 2010, “Browns” in August 2010.

Before the movies end up on TBS and TNT, they’ll get an exclusive 18-month pay TV window on Showtime, which has an output deal with Lionsgate.

As is usual in movie deals, Turner has given Lionsgate the right to carve out a window in the four-year contract for sale of one or more of the four titles to another ad-supported cable network.

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