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Showtime, Weinstein Co. Sign Long-Term Deal

Showtime Networks and The Weinstein Co. announced an exclusive seven-year film-output deal Monday that will supply the premium cable channel with films from the independent film company beginning with Weinstein’s 2009 slate.

The deal comes nearly three months after Showtime’s main suppliers of theatrical films -- Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios -- announced plans to launch their own premium-channel venture in coordination with Viacom’s MTV Networks.

The Showtime agreement is expected to encompass 95 films. If the Weinstein film slate is successful at the box office, Showtime contract escalators will make the deal worth $500 million-$700 million over the contract’s seven years, but much lower if the films are box-office disappointments.

The three-year-old Weinstein Co. has generated few hits to date. The founders previously ran Disney’s Miramax independent-style film unit.

Showtime hinted at "upcoming deals with other theatrical distributors" and touted the new deal, along with releases from CBS Films (Showtime is owned by CBS Corp.), as providing the network with a "potent feature film portfolio" to complement its increasing production of original series like Weeds, Dexter and Californication.

The network also recently acquired Inside the NFL, which previously ran on HBO for two decades.

“This exclusive agreement with The Weinstein Co. will deliver our subscribers an enormous and diverse slate of films at a price to Showtime that is consistent with today’s marketplace,” Showtime chairman and CEO Matt Blank said in a statement announcing the deal. “Bob’s and Harvey’s films are known for quality and promotability, making them a perfect fit with the acclaimed and award-winning original series that have generated strong momentum and subscriber growth for Showtime. We will continue to pursue such value-enhancing deals in the future.”

The Weinstein Co.’s 2009 release schedule will include Nine, an adaptation of the Broadway musical from Rob Marshall (Chicago), and Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards.