Turner takes ‘Bills,’ ‘Ella’

Miramax turns to TNT, TBS for pix

Miramax Films has sold the bulk of the network window to the “Kill Bill” pics and “Ella Enchanted” in an exclusive deal with Turner Broadcasting’s TNT and TBS.

Turner and Miramax confirmed the deal but declined to comment on the license fee, which could rise to $16 million for all three pictures, a figure tied to the final domestic theatrical gross of “Kill Bill Vol. 2,” now at $52.6 million, and “Ella,” $19.7 million.

“Kill Bill Vol. 1,” which wound up with $70 million in U.S. theaters, will get to TBS/TNT in January 2006. The second “Bill” and “Ella” will become available in June 2006. John Malone’s Starz! owns the pay TV rights to the movies, which will get a burst of premium runs in advance of their appearance on the Turner stations.

TBS/TNT will eventually share the window with another network or networks still to be determined, although Turner picks up the first plays of each of the titles. Miramax has set aside the second and fourth years of Turner’s five-year license term to sell the “Bill” pics to another network. For “Ella,” Turner owns the first three years, with years four and five available to a network like ABC Family, a sibling of Miramax.

Turner is becoming a reliable outlet for Miramax/Dimension movies, having recently bought the cable window to “Jersey Girl” and “Scary Movie 3.”

The “Bill” and “Ella” deals reinforce Turner’s status as the most active buyer of theatrical movies in the network window. TBS and TNT still harvest big audiences for theatricals, chalking up 17 of the 20 highest-rated movie slots among all basic cable nets for the first quarter of the year.

Recent Nielsen winners for Turner include “What Women Want,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” “Bad Boys,” “Rush Hour 2” and “The Wedding Planner.”

Rick Sands, chief operating officer of Miramax, and its VP of domestic-TV sales, Gary Perchick, negotiated the “Bill” and “Ella” deal for the studio. Jonathan Katz, senior VP of program planning and acquisitions for the Turner Entertainment Group, did the honors for TBS and TNT.