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Showtime, TriStar re-up cable deal

Showtime Networks confirmed Wednesday that it has concluded a $ 200 million-plus renewal deal with TriStar Pictures (Daily Variety, June 23) that will give the pay cable service the rights to 75 titles through the remainder of the decade.

TriStar reportedly struck the deal with Showtime after the studio balked at rival HBO’s demand to obtain exclusive foreign pay TV rights to the movie package.

The five-year agreement, which is a continuation of Showtime’s previous three-year pact with TriStar, provides the pay cable service with the exclusive premium TV rights to up to 15 titles per year starting in 1994.

Among the titles in the previous deal is the current hit “Sleepless in Seattle,” along with “Hook” and “Philadelphia.”

Neither TriStar nor Showtime prez-chief operating officer Matthew Blank would comment on the titles involved in the package, but it’s believed that TriStar’s big bet for ’94, “Godzilla,” would be included in the new deal.

Sources indicated that TriStar ultimately chose Viacom’s Showtime over Time Warner’s HBO because the latter is seeking product for its Eastern European and Latin American pay services.

TriStar, a subsid of Sony Pictures Entertainment, reportedly doesn’t want to risk driving up the price of its films in foreign markets by selling them to HBO — especially since Sony may want to start its own pay TV service in those territories in a year or two. Consequently, Showtime was able to slip in and conclude a renewal arrangement with TriStar.

A studio rep declined to comment on that scenario.

Showtime badly needed the TriStar deal. With the exception of Disney’s Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures labels, most of the pay service’s movie output deals are with boutique firms such as Castle Rock, New Line Cinema and PolyGram.

In contrast, HBO has deals in place with most of the other prolific major studios.

Its alliances have provided Showtime with such recent titles as “Sister Act, “”Far and Away,””Basic Instinct,””A Few Good Men” and “The Player.”

But pay cable sources asserted that Showtime has been hurt by its Disney deal , with neither Touchstone nor Buena Vista turning out any runaway hits lately.

Disney’s biggest pix of late, “Aladdin” and “Beauty & the Beast,” have come from Walt Disney Pictures. All of its films destined for cable go to The Disney Channel pay service.

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