Film editors at Universal Studios are busy performing surgery on the R-rated “American Pie 2” because a broadcast-acceptable version could push the movie’s network-TV pricetag up to $22 million.
At least two networks, TBS and USA, have put in bids, but both of them voiced their concerns regarding the sexy and/or gross-out scenes. The bidders want the scenes toned down but not at the expense of the humor. Many of the networks that decided not to join the auction for “Scary Movie” last year said that the bowdlerized version had removed not only the objectionable scenes but also most of the laughs. NBC disagreed, and paid a strapping $23 million to buy it.
Fox and FX bought the first “American Pie” in a shared window two years ago for the going rate at the time, which was slightly above 15% of domestic box office gross. One insider says, however, that Fox and FX have not put in a bid on the sequel.
Battered by a sluggish economy and diminishing TV ratings for theatrical movies, the major studios are pulling out all of the stops to get their movies sold. The delicate scissor work on “American Pie 2” will be worth it if it extracts a higher license fee from the winning network bidder.