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Showtime Adds Films

Showtime Networks' exclusive, seven-year film-distribution deal with The Weinstein Co. is the first of several movie deals the company expects to make in an effort to fill its theatrical lineup after parting with three major film studios.

The seven-year output deal, which takes effect with Weinstein's 2009 release schedule, covers such films as Nine and Quentin Tarantino's next project, Inglorious Bastards.

CBS-owned Showtime will use the Weinstein films, as well as future product from CBS Films, to help fill the void created when Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Lionsgate this past April chose not to renew their output deals for first-run movies with Showtime and opted to create their own premium outlet.

Paramount Pictures owner Viacom will run the new venture, which also will compete against HBO and Starz in the battle for premium-channel subscribers.

Weinstein is just the first of several movie deals the network hopes to secure as it looks to replenish its theatrical movie lineup, according to Showtime chairman and CEO Matt Blank.

“We're taking our time. We're good through 2011, and this just adds to that,” he told Multichannel News, referring to available films from the expiring trio of studio deals. “Between this and where CBS Films will be in two years, you're probably talking 130 movies over that period of time.

“There's also a half dozen players knocking at our door, and we live in a world where a lot of big producers out there may be anxious to do deals,” he added, although he would not reveal names.

Blank also would not reveal specific terms of the Weinstein agreement but said the deal was “favorable” for Showtime. The Hollywood Reporter reported that Weinstein — which had also been in talks with the new Lionsgate/Paramount/MGM channel — agreed to make “advance payments” of as much as $100 million to Showtime as part of the deal, likening it to a “deposit” against future Showtime payments in the event Weinstein doesn't deliver the number or quality of films promised.

Showtime declined comment, and a Weinstein representative did not return an e-mailed request for comment.

Blank also said the deal includes digital rights — including broadband distribution rights — to Weinstein movies “consistent with our business needs going forward” but would not provide details.

The CBS-owned pay network already had an output deal with Weinstein imprint Dimension Films, which forms part of the new exclusive agreement. Other Weinstein releases that will be in the deal: All Good Things, a remake of Seventh Samurai, The Alchemist and Panic. Dimension films in the mix include a remake of Scanners and Scream 4, the latest in that slasher-film series.

R. Thomas Umstead
R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.