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Fox, Turner Team Up to Reel In 'Spider-Man'

June 01, 2002|CLAUDIA ELLER and BRIAN LOWRY | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

After an intense bidding war by major TV broadcasters, Fox Network and Turner Broadcasting joined forces and captured the television rights to the blockbuster movie "Spider-Man" for an estimated $60 million, officials from Sony Pictures Entertainment confirmed Friday.

The deal, concluded late in the day by Sony's Columbia TriStar Domestic Television division, is among one of the most expensive acquisitions of a feature film, along with such titles as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," "Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace" and "The Lost World: Jurassic Park."

Given "Spider-Man's" huge box-office take--close to $350million so far--industry insiders may have expected the price to be even higher, but it's unclear exactly how the deal was structured.

Fox and Turner will have the right to televise the film over a 10-year period with an unspecified number of runs split between Fox's broadcast network and Turner's various cable networks, which include TNT and TBS. The film won't become available for its first airing until November 2004.

Even with all the competition and high acquisition prices, networks still see the value of movie properties as a ratings draw. Fox is coming off a disappointing season during which it canceled two of its longest-running shows, "The X-Files" and "Ally McBeal." Fox earlier had paid $80 million a piece for "The Lost World" and "Episode I."

Meanwhile, Turner Broadcasting, owned by AOL Time Warner Inc., in recent years has been aggressively snapping up rights to big movies to feed its cable networks. Among them are "Lord of the Rings" and "The Matrix," both made by Turner's sister movie studios New Line and Warner Bros. Turner also has acquired rights to Paramount's "Mission Impossible 2" and Universal's "The Mummy."

In November, Warner Bros. sold the TV rights to "Harry Potter" and its first sequel, "The Chamber of Secrets" to Walt Disney Co.'s ABC in a deal estimated at $140 million. Earlier, ABC acquired TV rights to Universal Pictures/Imagine Films' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" for a reported $60 million.

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