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`Elf’ Assured of a Full Stocking

Dec 8, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Showing more patience than a kid on Christmas morning, Vivendi Universal’s USA Network is continuing talks for the 2006 broadcast window on New Line Cinema’s surprise blockbuster “Elf.” The comedy, starring Will Ferrell as an overgrown Santa’s helper, has grossed $129 million at the box office in just a month, and the kids aren’t even out of school for vacation yet. It appears likely to remain near the top of the heap throughout the holiday season. That would suggest a price to USA of at least $19 million, but it could go higher if there are performance escalators included in the deal. Successful comedies with appeal to the whole family are rare and greatly valued by cable and broadcast. One reason negotiations may have dragged on is that USA wants the exclusive rights to run “Elf” during the Christmas season. That would make it hard to attract a second network for the film on an additional window. Another reason may be that another broadcast network might want a crack at running it as well. A New Line executive said only that a deal has not yet been completed, while USA referred calls back to New Line.