NBA Showdown: Why Hollywood Is Thrilled There's a Game 7

World War Z
World War Z
 Paramount Pictures

Brad Pitt's zombie epic World War Z begins rolling out in theaters at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 20 -- in the midst of the NBA showdown between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs.

So why is Paramount rejoicing, instead of being consumed with worry over people refusing to leave the vicinity of a television in order to hit the multiplex?

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Studio insiders were actually hoping there would be a Game 7, which caps one of the most dramatic tournament championships in NBA history, with each team scoring an alternate win. Thursday's game is guaranteed to deliver millions of eyeballs for two Paramount World War Z television spots, particularly among the male set.

Tuesday's Game 6, in which the Miami Heat -- and its star player, LeBron James -- staged a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback to grab a 103-100 overtime win, drew an average of 20.6 million viewers and earned an 8.5 rating in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic.

Paramount even held back advertising that World War Z is opening Thursday at 8 p.m. -- the new midnight -- in anticipation that the NBA Finals could be drawn out. The studio co-financed the $190 million tentpole with Skydance Productions.

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Paramount isn't the only studio taking advantage of the game. Disney and Pixar also will air sports for Monsters University, which likewise opens this weekend. And there's sure to be spots from upcoming tentpoles such as Pacific Rim, White House Down and The Lone Ranger.

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