Pay TV window is no phantom for ‘Clones’

Move is departure from 'Episode I' strategy

Lucasfilm has put the word out to HBO, Showtime and Starz! that it has created a pay TV window for “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.”

The pay networks are surprised at the movie’s availability because they assumed Lucasfilm would repeat the no-pay-window strategy engineered for “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.”

For “Menace,” the Fox Network bought out the pay window, negotiating the deal at the same time 20th Century Fox worked out the contract to distribute the movie theatrically.

But the broadcast networks have cut back on their purchases of theatrical movies. Sluggish advertising revenues have curtailed the expense budgets of the nets, and movie ratings have fallen off noticeably in primetime during the past three or four years.

Based on the $300 million that “Clones” will gross in U.S. theaters, the movie could well fetch as much as $15 million for the pay TV window. That exclusive window would kick in during late summer or early fall 2003 for an initial 18 months, followed by another lengthy license term four years after a broadcast/cable window.

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