Spike nails down ‘Rambo’ franchise

Network buys rights to all four films

Spike TV, chalking up the best young-male demos in its history last week for multiple runs of various “Star Wars” movies, has grabbed another movie franchise, buying all four “Rambo” pictures starring Sylvester Stallone, including the latest incarnation released earlier this year.

Lionsgate has sold the 2008 “Rambo” to Spike for $4.5 million, in a deal that includes four library titles, two starring Jan Claude Van Damme (“Kickboxer” and “Replicant”) and one with Steven Seagal (“Ticker”) plus “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder.”

Spike has picked up the first three “Rambo” movies from CBS TV Distribution. “Rambo: First Blood,” premieres May 24. “Rambo: First Blood Part II” becomes available in January 2010. In a chronology switch, the 2008 “Rambo” will be available sooner (June 2010) than “Rambo III” (March 2011).

But the network plans to schedule multiple marathons of two or more of the titles early in the next decade. Spike has bought the fourth “Rambo” under a four-year contract, giving Lionsgate the right to sell a window or two within the four years to another network.

Negotiating the deal for Lionsgate and the Weinstein Company, co-producer/distributor of 2008’s “Rambo” was Rand Stoll, Lionsgate’s exec VP of TV sales. His negiotiating counterpart for Spike was John Griffin, its VP of programming.

One of Lionsgate’s boasts is that more extras get killed in the most recent “Rambo” than in any of the three other movies. The death rate of 236 in “Rambo” averages 2.59 kills each minute.