TBS strikes big Dreamworks deal

Turner Broadcasting System has entered a sweeping agreement with DreamWorks SKG, reportedly shelling out between $350 to 450 million for the broadcast rights for up to 60 of the studio's films, including such hits as Gladiator, American Beauty and Cast Away.

Under the deal's terms, all titles - nearly every DreamWorks movie released theatrically between 1997 and 2007 - will be available to the Turner channels immediately following their license to a broadcast network. The contract allows TBS Inc. to have its hands on the films until 2015.

The arrangement is a coup for Turner (which includes TNT and TBS) because it represents the first time a basic cable programmer has struck a broadcast window output deal with a single major studio. Other DreamWorks films in Turner's package include Almost Famous, The Mexican with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts and What Lies Beneath with Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer. Turner's Cartoon Network is expected to nab such DreamWorks animated movies as Chicken Run, The Prince of Egypt and Antz.

Robert Levi, president of worldwide program planning and acquisitions for Turner sees the deal as a boon for the company because it "further fuels the value of our networks for our affiliates, sponsors and viewers, and for that matter the value of basic cable television." - Susanne Ault