Lionsgate pacts with Sci Fi, USA

Cable networks nab smallscreen film rights

Lionsgate has cut a $20 million pact with USA Network and its Sci Fi Channel sibling for smallscreen rights to a package of pics that includes “3:10 to Yuma,” “Saw II” and “Good Luck Chuck.” Pact is the most lucrative basic-cable movie rights deal in Lionsgate’s history.

“Yuma,” which has grossed $53 million domestically, becomes available to USA early in 2010 after it completes its pay cable run on Showtime, which has an output deal with Lionsgate. “Good Luck Chuck” also makes its USA debut early in 2010.As part of the deal, USA has given Lionsgate the rights to sell “Yuma” and “Chuck” to a broadcast net or to another cabler.

While USA is making a bet on “Chuck” star Dane Cook for comedy (it also purchased “Employee of the Month”), it’s just as gung ho for Jason Statham as an action-movie lead, buying three of them in the Lionsgate package: “War” (available early 2010), “Crank” (early 2009) and “Chaos” (also early 2009). In “War,” Statham co-stars with Jet Li. “Chaos,” which co-stars Wesley Snipes and Ryan Phillippe, will make its world TV premiere on USA.

Another USA title is “The Condemned,” which senior VP of programming acquisitions Jane Blaney said is a good fit for the network because it stars wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin, and USA’s consistently highest-rated weekly series is “WWE Raw,” produced by Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment.

“This deal really works for our networks because Lionsgate is offering such a diversified package of movies,” Blaney said.

Lionsgate pics “Saw II” and “Skinwalkers” will make their television debut on the Sci Fi Channel, which will also buy four library titles from Lionsgate: “The Toolbox Murders,” “Ginger Snaps Back,” “The Shaft” and “Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed.”