USA Network just completed a deal giving it access to all of Universal’s 2009 film slate: 24 movies including Oscar contenders like Milk and Frost/Nixon. The $200 million deal is one of the largest in basic cable history.
Even though the NBC-Universal-owned USA would seem like a natural destination for movies produced by a studio owned by the same parent company, apparently there was a bidding war with several cable outlets, including the News Corp-owned FX, which last year bought 15 Universal titles for $100 million.
Variety: While the broadcasters are mostly out of the theatrical movie biz, the basic cable nets still rely heavily on film packages. Indeed, theatrical pics have become even more important to the cablers, who use the titles as marketing platforms to promote their growing stable of original scripted series…
According to insiders, USA will pay, on average, 12% of each movie’s U.S. gross revenue…
Meanwhile, [Frances] Manfredi, [NBC Universal Domestic TV Distribution’s exec VP-general sales manager] said while it was “great that NBC Universal owns both companies,” the synergies “don’t play in my business at all.”
“We’re a neutral distributor in the marketplace,” she said. “And in a case like this, we had multiple bidders.”
The movies come to USA approximately 30 months after their theatrical release. Here’s a selection of the films covered by the deal, most of which have yet to hit theatres:
- Duplicity, with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen
- State of Play, with Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck
- the Will Ferrell vehicle Land of the Lost
- Public Enemies, with Johnny Depp
- Funny People, with Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen
- Couples Retreat, with Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau;
- The Wolfman, with Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins
- the Matt Damon/Greg Kinnear starrer Green Zone
- And the upcoming untitled Nancy Meyers film starring Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin