Prepare to see lots of Weinstein movies on Showtime soon. Starting with its 2009 release schedule, including Nine with Daniel Day-Lewis and Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards "spaghetti western," the pay channel has signed an exclusive seven-year theatrical-movie-output deal with the Weinsteins. (By the way, Brad Pitt and Mr. Tarantino are allegedly meeting in France today to discuss a Bastards collaboration).
Showtime is thumbing their noses at Paramount Pictures, MGM and Lionsgate, which are canceling their output deal with the pay channel and starting their own separate TV network, set to kick off late in 2009.
"This deal reinforces a strategy that will give us a diverse slate of films to go with our original series," said Matt Blank, chairman and CEO of Showtime Networks. All that Blank would say about the license fee is that it’s "a price that is consistent with today’s marketplace."
Showtime earlier this year balked at what it termed excessive license fee demands for renewals on its long-standing output deals with Paramount, its former sibling studio, as well as MGM and Lionsgate. Those three have joined together to launch a pay TV rival to Showtime and HBO (Daily Variety, April 21).
The deal, which includes 15 slots for animated pics, is also a boon to the Weinsteins’ company and "provides our films with a critically important pay TV home for the next seven years," said Harvey Weinstein.
While declining to confirm any dollar figures, Blank said his philosophy is that, while still part of the pay TV mix, exclusive theatricals don’t deserve the big bucks demanded by the studios for one big reason: Too many people have seen each movie by the time it reaches pay TV 10 to 12 months after it premieres in theaters.