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Leslie, Harvey & Quentin: A Love Story

Harvey Weinstein’s not the only Hollywood mogul doing a little jig over the bitchin’ box office numbers for "Inglorious Basterds."

 

Leslie Moonves has reason to be happy, too.

 

That’s because "Basterds" is the first big movie covered under the massive seven-year, 95 film output deal CBS Corp.’s Showtime signed with The Weinstein Company last summer. With "Basterds" doing far better than any box office prognosticator expected, Showtime suddenly finds itself with the premium cable rights to what’s shaping up to be a mini-blockbuster.

 

It’s a nice stroke of luck for Showtime, which made the strategic decision last year not to pay megabucks to renew its output deals with Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM. Instead, the network, headed by CEO Matt Blank, said it would focus on its original series (like its latest hit, "Nurse Jackie"), movies from the nascent CBS Films– and titles from TWC and Dimension.

 

Showtime’s per-movie cost for TWC titles is understood to be much less than what the cable network paid for pictures under its previous output deals.

 

Having a big hit like "Basterds" on its 2010 movie roster isn’t going to make or break Showtime, of course. But the breakout appeal of "Basterds" means that rather than having to settle for a Tarantino arthouse title, Showtime now gets a big hit to market to possible subscribers.

 

Showtime execs no doubt have their fingers crossed for TWC’s next big tentpole, the Rob Marshall-directed "Nine."

 

If that movie can manage to capture the same sort of buzz as "Chicago"– or simply exceed expectations like "Basterds"– Showtime’s deal with TWC will be off to a very strong start indeed.

 

Meanwhile, Moonves isn’t the only TV type happy for the Weinsteins this weekend. Lifetime chief Andrea Wong is still basking in the glow of the strong ratings for the premiere of TWC’s "Project Runway," which drew more than 4 million viewers in its first post-Bravo airing.

 

UPDATE: We forgot to mention Showtime’s other big movie output deal. It’s with Summit, the company behind that little franchise known as "Twilight." Showtime will not be lacking for buzzworthy movies next year.