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Trib, SKG Declare 9-Day War

Tribune Entertainment will break new ground by offering broadcast stations only a 9-day syndication window for movie titles contained in DreamWorks SKG movie packages.

The syndication window, which will include two runs in the nine days, will come between the shared broadcast/basic cable window and a second HBO window.

The news comes as part of the third extension of a previous 10-year deal with DreamWorks and will include both new titles and selected titles from other packages.

It gives Tribune exclusive broadcast distribution and barter rights to the latest DreamWorks movie package for 18 titles released in 2004 and '05, including Steven Spielberg's just-released War of the Worlds, starring Tom Cruise, which opened nationwide last Wednesday and grossed a hefty $112.7 million box office over the six-day period.

Dick Askin, president/CEO of Tribune Entertainment, told B&C that Tribune has been meeting with ad agencies and clients "about ways to monetize the short window," which varies from the traditional 30-day length that stations have licensed film packages until now.

Tribune gets 14 minutes to sell to national advertisers for each two-hour  movie, with stations getting 14 minutes of local time (that jumps to 21 minutes each for three-hour movies).

The goal, according to Askin, is to get a "different caliber of advertiser" than traditionally buys into movie packages, especially ones willing to pay a premium for A-list titles when the first unspecified movie becomes available for syndication in October 2006.

Tribune and DreamWorks initially made a distribution pact in 2003 for the standard 30-day window, which marked the first time the movie studio had made a broadcast syndication arrangment for its film library, which also includes Spielberg's The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks.

Additional DreamWorks titles covered under this new deal are the animated blockbusters Shrek 2, Shark Tale and Madagascar, along with Collateral, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and The Ring Two.

Among the titles under the agreement that are still to be released in 2005 are Michael Bay’s action thriller, The Island, starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson; a suspense thriller from Wes Craven, Red Eye; the romantic comedy Just Like Heaven, starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo; Aardman’s animated feature Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit; and dramas Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, starring Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning, and The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio featuring Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, and Laura Dern.

Askin, who made the announcement with Rick Sands, president and COO of DreamWorks SKG and Hal Richardson, head of DreamWorks Worldwide Television Distribution, said the syndicator will continue to have exclusive rights to oversee television station and barter sales, as well as marketing activities, for the films' broadcast syndication.

The latest DreamWorks package has already been cleared on the Tribune Broadcasting station group, which covers 22 major markets, as well as in 89 of the top-90 markets. Askin expects it to ultimately end up cleared in 98% of the U.S.