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Showtime Networks announces seven-year licensing deal with Phoenix Pictures; SHOWTIME to acquire 11% equity interest in Feature Film Production Company.

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 5, 1996--Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a unit of Viacom Inc., and Phoenix Pictures have entered into an agreement under which SNI has agreed to acquire the exclusive U.S. premium television rights to up to 40 films over a seven-year period.

The deal will include Phoenix Pictures' theatrically released titles from Jan. 1, 1996 through Dec. 31, 2002. SNI has also agreed to acquire approximately 11% of the equity of the company, marking the first time that the network has made an equity stake in a feature film production company of this caliber. The effectiveness of both the licensing agreement and the equity investment is subject to Phoenix successfully closing its financing arrangement with Chemical Bank. Phoenix is currently producing Barbra Streisand's "The Mirror Has Two Faces."

This partnership was successfully negotiated between Showtime Networks Inc.'s President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew C. Blank, President of Programming Jerry Offsay and Senior Vice President, Program Acquisitions and Planning Matthew Duda with Phoenix Pictures Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mike Medavoy and President and Chief Operating Officer Arnie Messer.

In making the announcement, Medavoy stated, "We are extremely pleased about our arrangement with Showtime because it means that we are working with some very talented executives. I have known and respected Sumner Redstone for over 20 years. And I am confident that this arrangement can only enhance the profitability of both companies."

Blank stated, "We are excited about this deal with Phoenix Pictures and look forward to a line-up of quality feature films to complement our strong roster of theatrical and original product. By taking an equity stake, Showtime Networks demonstrates its confidence in the success of this venture. I have enjoyed a long personal relationship with Mike, and I am confident that his established track record with such hits as SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, PHILADELPHIA, DANCES WITH WOLVES and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS will help SHOWTIME further distinguish its exclusive slate of theatrical product."

Showtime Networks Inc. is also entitled to two seats on the Phoenix Pictures' Board of Directors which will be held by Matthew C. Blank and Jerry Offsay. The board currently includes SPE's Ken Lemberger, Alan Levine and Fred Bernstein; Onex's Gerald Schwartz and Eric Rosen; Pearson's Greg Dyke, Anthony DelTufo and James Bennett; and Medavoy, Messer and Peter Hoffman. James Lee will serve as an advising director.

Phoenix Pictures is a fully independent, creatively autonomous production company owned by its management and its principal investors. Showtime Networks joins Sony Pictures, Britain's Pearson Television, Onex Corp. and others as Phoenix's equity partners. In addition to its equity base, Phoenix Pictures also is financed by direct investment in its pictures by Sony, Canal Plus and an insured bank facility, of which Chemical Bank is its agent.

This new long-term relationship with Phoenix Pictures further complements the exclusive line-up of theatrical films to be seen on SNI's services. SNI also presents exclusive hits from studios including Disney's Touchstone/Hollywood Pictures, PolyGram, MGM, TriStar Pictures, Castle Rock, and will present titles from Paramount Pictures, beginning with pictures theatrically released in 1998. In addition, Showtime has announced a weekly line-up of original movies featuring top-name talent such as Michael Caine, Louis Gossett Jr., Rob Lowe, Tom Selleck, Timothy Hutton, Anne Bancroft, Stockard Channing, Jimmy Smits, Beau Bridges, Mary Stuart Masterson and Eric Stoltz.

Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a unit of Blockbuster Entertainment Group which is wholly owned and operated by Viacom Inc., owns the premium television networks SHOWTIME, THE MOVIE CHANNEL and FLIX as well as Showtime Satellite Networks, and manages, through a joint venture, All News Channel. SHOWTIME en Espanol, a separate audio feed of SHOWTIME, is also available for the Spanish-speaking audience. -0-

CONTACT: West Coast PR

Bryan Byrd, 818/505-7822


Trade PR

Lisa Hammer, 212/708-1562


Phoenix Pictures

Howard Brandy, 310/657-8320
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Mar 5, 1996
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