Turner Buys ‘Wedding Crashers’

Jul 28, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Before it even opened, Turner Broadcasting crashed the party to buy rights to what has become the top comedy in each of its first two weeks at the box office.

After Turner’s TBS airs “Wedding Crashers,” Comedy Central will have a window to show the New Line film.

Turner acquired the rights to “Wedding Crashers” several months ago in a package that included other films. Neither Turner nor New Line would disclose the other titles or discuss how much was paid for “Wedding Crashers,” but a source familiar with the deal said the price was $10 million to $12 million, based on a percentage of the box office.

Turner will have the movie in 2008, 2009 and 2011. Comedy Central can show the film in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

Distributor New Line Television is negotiating with broadcast networks about airing the movie, said David Spiegelman, senior executive VP, domestic television distribution and marketing, for New Line Television.

“It’s the perfect movie for TBS because it’s very funny,” said Steve Koonin, general manager of TNT and TBS, which bills itself as the “very funny” network.

“We screened the movie four or five months ago and loved it, and we bought it then,” he said.

After it received strong reviews and drew more than $80 million at the box office in two weeks, other networks called to try to buy the film, but the joke was on them because TBS had gotten there first. TBS might have gotten a bit of a bargain by striking so early, one source said.

Both Turner and New Line are part of Time Warner, and Mr. Spiegelman said he was pleased to keep the film in the family.

Comedy Central agreed to take the second window more recently, a spokesman for the network said.

“Wedding Crashers” stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. The R-rated film has several scenes that might need to be edited for basic cable.

“There are a couple of nude scenes that are easy to remove,” Mr. Spiegelman said. Some language and a scene in which a woman gives Mr. Vaughn an under-the-table hand job during a family dinner might have to be altered. “We are really good at that,” Mr. Spiegelman said.

(Comedy Central might be able to run the film uncut during its late-night Secret Stash block.)

With its focus on comedy, rival network executives said, TBS is under pressure to buy the handful of good comedies that Hollywood produces and is paying top dollar for them.

But Mr. Koonin said there’s no pressure. “There has been a good amount of comedies and we’re very interested in taking advantage of those opportunities when they present themselves,” he said.

He noted that TBS has already landed “Wedding Crashers” and the Adam Sandler remake of “The Longest Yard,” the two highest-grossing comedies this summer and, “We’re well in the works on several other comedies.”