Has “Casino Royale” revitalized the James Bond franchise? Just ask the USA Network, which has agreed to pony up a hefty $20 million for cable rights after spirited bidding by FX, Spike and TNT.
Sony Pictures TV, which engineered the auction for “Casino Royale,” couldn’t have chosen a better time to come along with a blockbuster movie. Just since early September, Madison Avenue has paid a premium for each of seven different theatricals that chalked up more than 2 million adults 18-49 on ad-supported cable: “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” and “Elf” on USA; “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and “The Polar Express” on ABC Family; and “Cast Away,” “Walking Tall” and “Gone in 60 Seconds” on TNT.
USA takes title to “Casino Royale” in June 2009 for a five-year license term. Sony has carved out three separate two-month windows within the five years for sale to another cable and/or broadcast net. That should energize the profit participants of “Casino Royale”: Depending on the demand, those three windows could add another $5 million-plus to USA’s $20 million outlay.