USA holding ‘Hostage’

Net pays $4 mil for Willis pic

NEW YORK — Miramax has sold exclusive rights to Bruce Willis thriller “Hostage” to the USA Network for about $4 million.

In a sign that the length of the ancillary-market window is shrinking, USA takes title to “Hostage” for five years beginning in April 2007 — only 25 months after the pic’s March debut in U.S. theaters. The typical gap between theaters and basic cable was 33 months.

The pay TV window has also narrowed: Starz!, which has an exclusive output deal with Miramax, will get “Hostage” on Dec. 21, only nine months after its premiere in domestic multiplexes; 12 months used to be the norm.

Miramax veep of TV sales Gary Perchick brokered the deal, keeping the company active as it winds down prior to the takeover in September by the Walt Disney Co.

USA is a natural outlet for “Hostage”: Net’s primetime schedule thrives on contemporary action movies featuring macho heroes such as Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

The license fee for “Hostage” was modest because it’s based on a percentage of domestic box office, and the movie earned only $34.4 million during its two months in the theaters.