USA Net Rides With ‘Dukes’ Movie

Sep 12, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The General Lee is going to join the cast of characters on USA Network.

USA has acquired the commercial TV premiere of the movie version of “The Dukes of Hazzard” for what sources estimate was a license fee of $10 million. The film, which grossed $77 million at the box office this summer, is part of a package of movies from Warner Bros. that cost the network a total of $14 million.

“Dukes,” based on the TV series that ran from 1979 through 1985, will be available to USA in the first quarter of 2008.

USA has not been a big player in the theatrical film business this year because it is adding “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and WWE wrestling to a prime-time schedule already buttressed by “Law & Order: SVU” and such strong-performing original series as “Monk,” “The 4400” and “The Dead Zone.”

“We buy select titles. We’re not buying in bulk,” said Jane Blaney, senior VP of programming at USA. “We’re trying to buy movies that make sense,” both in terms of reaching a key demographic and by “not breaking the bank,” she said.

“Dukes,” which stars Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke and Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott as her cousins Luke and Bo Duke, respectively, along with the iconic General Lee car, will appeal to young audiences and should fit well with viewers attracted to wrestling, Ms. Blaney said.

The movie is a “great ride, a lot of fun and an escape,” she said. The movie will work in almost any time slot and is the kind of movie a viewer can tune in at any point and still stay with it.

In addition to “Dukes,” USA acquired portions of the broadcast window for “Troy,” “Terminator 3,” “Alexander,” “City by the Sea,” “Matchstick Men” and “Out of Reach,” a Steven Seagal movie being released direct to video.

Ms. Blaney said the network also acquired a portion of the window for “Pirates of the Caribbean” from ABC, which acquired rights to the film from Buena Vista Television.

USA has also acquired some miniseries from Hallmark Entertainment.