‘U-571’ leads $64 mil U pic pact for USA

Nets 28 titles total to build library; will share with Sci-Fi sister

NEW YORK — USA Networks will pay Universal about $64 million for “U-571” and four other new theatricals exclusively in the first network window — plus 23 library titles in a post-network window.

The library titles include the Eddie Murphy version of “The Nutty Professor,” “Liar Liar,” “Happy Gilmore,” “12 Monkeys,” “Daylight” and “Dante’s Peak.”

All of the networks were interested in picking up “U-571” but balked at having to take such poor-performing theatricals as “Screwed,” the Norm Macdonald comedy that collected only $7.2 million at the domestic box office; Ang Lee’s Civil War epic “Ride With the Devil,” starring Tobey Maguire and Jewel, which staggered to $631,000 in U.S. theaters; and “Waking the Dead,” which finished its theatrical run with only $337,933 in the till.

The fifth title in the “U-571” package is “The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas,” which will wind up with a disappointing $35 million or so domestically.

USA and sister network the Sci-Fi Channel have far more need of movies than the Big Four broadcast networks, so USA was willing to take on the lesser titles to get “U-571,” which will probably see a domestic gross of close to $80 million. USA will pay $11 million-$12 million for “U-571” alone.

For the 23 inventory titles, USA shelled out about $2 million apiece to get the movies for a four-year license term following their runs on the broadcast nets that bought them in the first network window.

“These movies will help USA to build our movie library,” said Bob West, head of programming for USA Networks. Some of the library titles will be playable on both USA and Sci-Fi, such as “Nutty Professor,” “Tales From the Crypt” and “12 Monkeys.”

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