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In the mid 199O's,
the buzzword in Hollywood was "coiweigence."
the well quickly ran dry. a leading online marketer of studio movies for clients such as MGM. "We caught lightning in a bottle. after getting its proverbial bubble burst. And in Hollywood's whathave-you-done-for-nie-Iateiy culture. Hollywood has timidly started to embrace the online world once again. the two sides called a truce and returned to their respective comers. this well-worn success story took place five years ago." While these numbers can't compete with budgets for television and print. and Dreamworks. how is Hollywood seeking to get the most bang for its online content buck? ^ H C E S S AND FAILURE j^^ffik anyone in tlie movie business about Hollywood's most highprofile online success and he or she will tell you about The Blair Witch • Project when the stars truly aligned. "And the news for 2(X)4 is even better. Will it be for real this time? And if so. it is a film that would have never been discovered by mainstream audiences." •MK^^vin J. the movie—made on a $35. The bigwigs ai Microsoft made a bold march onto studio lots and proclaimed that they held the keys to the convergence kingdom. Common sense would dictate that this should have been the first splash of an inevitable tidal wave that blended Hollywood's content and the Internet. and this is up considerably even since the beginning of this year. Foxe. Miramax. "We're seeing at least five psercent of overall marketing budgets for a film being allocated for online promotion. Yet in a short time. president of Deep Focus. declaring that Hollywood would stick to content. Now for ihc first time in years. Of course. they do indicate a steady improvement in Hollywood's attention lo online audiences. without the online buzz. Instead. 2004 ECoMTEHT 2 3 .Everyone in Tinseltown sought desperately lo solve the riddle of how Hollywood's content would merge with emerging digital technologies. "The online commu• B n o o k the fibn's marketing materials and passed them around virally j in such a way that audiences showed up in droves for opening night.000 budget—went on to gross more S350 million worldwide." " Clearly. and the backrooms of Sunset Boulevard eateries are once again abuzz with producers talking about the Internet. Instead. According to figures from thtf Motion Picture Association of America. while Microsoft would stick to technology. the film's executive prtxlucer." according to Ian Schafer. hanging your hat on a success five years in the past doesn't get you invited to too many lunches. Ten years have passed and. online advertising budgets for its member studios nearly doubled from 2002 to 2003. Hollywood's online ad spending is up.
. founder of the Producer's Guild of America's New Media Council and managing director of Pacific Media Ventures. the Internet boils down to only two things—marketing and distribution. if not done properly. online audiences must be provided with constant and immediate access to showtimes and theaters. With the possible exception of Disney. People still need to constantly be reminded that they need to get out of their seats and go to the theater. "The Internet for Hollywood is about community. movie clips." But branding is serious business.. and Lord Of The Rings. each movie's branded marketing assets—logos. Marc Levey. be-all. "The biggest challenge in online movie marketing right now is to make sure that showtimes. online marketers are also constrained by limited available content and how they can access it. So why has Hollywood only just recently returned its attentions to the online world? In order to understand the answer. And while they're surely limited by budget. MARKETING Only in the past few years have Hollywood new media staffs migrated from beneath the umbrellas of the IT departments to those of marketing.With so much riding on opening weekend box office grosses.the Internet has become simply a piece of the marketing pie. And each represents a double-edged sword. Because of this reality. Robert Levy." says Panay. many Hollywood content-makers feel that using it to develop and extend a brand is the real untapped power of the Internet. "We've already started discussing online promotions that will catch the attention of youth audiences for this film. "Just as with movie marketing in general. "Young audiences are online. "Rather than being an end-all. while the downside entails the hot-button issue of content piracy. photographs. artwork. 24 WWW. clips. the coming years might very well prove the Internet to be an additional and enormous revenue stream. Harry Putter. the downside is that. beyond simple movie trailers. Panay is currently finishing the Miramax film Underclassman starring Nick Cannon of Nickelodeon fame. Many outsourced online marketers complain of having to sift through shipments of unlabeled CD's containing non-catalogued cast photographs and movie graphics. insists. we've learned that some audiences respond to online marketing. and related promotions. giving visitors the ability to chat and exchange ideas between installments of movie episodes. For distribution. The new rules are clearly being written as we speak. agrees. it can severely damage or even destroy hard-won brands. Whereas on The Wedding Crashers—another film Panay is finishing for New Line Cinema that stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn—he expects the studio to rely less on online marketing. We play extensively to these kids online because we're both encouraging them to buy these movies and we're reinforcing Mary Kate and Ashley as a brand. And Hollywood marketing these days is all about opening weekend box office. movie marketers say that. they'll come back over and over. as the audience skews somewhat older. few people rush out to see the new Universal or Sony fibn.ECONTENTMAG." Levey points to Hollywood film franchises such as Spidennan. If you build a branded community that people can participate in. the brands tend to be movie specific.COM and some don't. Digital management of these assets is even more cumbersome. In movies. The upside in the marketing arena is that the Internet has joined the ranks of bona fide mediums that can be used to galvanize the audiences who fill theaters on opening nights." says Deep Focus' Schafer. it's important to realize that." For instance. trailers. "The online communities for these types of franchises can be huge when they emulate the "water cooler' atmosphere. for Hollywood content-makers. and viewable trailers are accessible to a user at all the right times. theaters.." says Hollywood movie producer Andrew Panay." While studios struggle with using the Internet as a too! to create box office punch. and the like—must be created on very short timelines. rather than company specific. producer of the phenomenally successful Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen direct-to-video movies.
com MTV www. systems engineer for INSCI Corp." The show quickly became a hit. things are changing. and marketers alike to digital media from around the world and in all parts of the production cycle—digital dailies. "In addition to allowing for high customization on the front end.insd. Logos. developer and marketer of the ActiveMedia software. the network turned to Extensis' DAM software.neospire.com Neospire www. says. lawyers. cineSHARE enables access by producers. editors. print. among others. sorted. head-shots. finishing. thereby allowing MTV's branded content to go on-air and online more quickly. "cineSHARE is basically a big collection of Weh-based folders with the ability to execute great searches. especially in the 12-34 age range. By ultimately speeding up production time and ensuring a consistent brand identity. Whereas only a few years ago the download time for a full-length feature film was Using ActiveMedia. but because of the added emphasis on overall channel branding. Portfolio. "All of these point solutions together are wrapped up with a bow and become Sony's enterprise-wide solution. all of which can now be accessed through the Web.org Producer's Guild of America's New Media Council •pj ' • a Sony Pictures www. INSCl's marketing VP. MTV's problem mirrors Sony's.and fast. "Among other things. Extensis' Sadler adds that an unanticipated benefit of the software for MTV is that they've vastly sped up internal approval times.mlv. But more important for them is the extension of their overall channel brand. "Your ability to find what you need with this software is much greater than when we all worked with just FTP. We tried to grab the attention of these kids by giving them the opportunity to play our Build Your Own Ride game online. "We feel that ActiveMedia really "plays well' with other applications already in use at Sony." This ease of access to multiple terabytes of data allows departments and contractors in many locations to quickly gather the most current brand assets and then use them creatively. Likewise. That experience is bigger than any one particular show. while one low-res proxy is being streamed lo the desktop. and Portfolio's Express feature allows users to transfer data to various other desktop applications through simple drag-and-drop methods. Kirk Sadler. directors. and identified immediately. producer and distributor of the Spiderman movies." adds Susan Worthy. a search has produced four available video clips. competitive advantage for the network.deep-locus. video clips." says Beth J. animation. Using INSCl's ActiveMedia digital asset management (DAM) software as its platform." says Mike Koehler. Because it is Web-based. centralization enables administrators to more easily implement a formalized backup procedure. MTV Network's executive who oversees the popular series. and production notes.Companies Featured in This Article Deep Focus www. Extensis' director of product management. OcTOBER 2004 E C O N T E N T 25 . Extensis considers MTV's use of the software a time-saving. this presents the problem of having to control and centralize access to thousands upon thousands of moving parts." notes INSCl's Koehler. collaboration can take place in near real time. and marketing houses.extensis. "Kids come to the MTV Web site because they get an overall experience consistent with the culture of our network. MTV has used Portfolio to archive and centralize all of its branded elements. it's a struggle that occurs on a longer-term basis. we think that being able to interface with so many other applications is one of the major keys to making this all work. DISTRIBUTION These days." Television networks also seek to brand individual programs. graphics.com INSCI www. photographs—anything branded—is able to be accessed. as the music industry has quickly discovered.sonypictures. legal online distribution of Hollywood's content to mainstream audiences appears confined to downloadable movie trailers and program clips.. cineSHARE is designed to move and share marketing materials and stock footage with post." Search capabilities also get a high priority." As a piece of this enterprise solution. But. Of course. "We very intentionally have reached out to online users for our auto-makeover series Pimp My Ride. The system provides secure access to more than 20.com Motion Picture Association of America www mpaa. Sony has created cineSHARE.net Extensis www.com MANAGING ASSETS For Sony Pictures. location photos.. "ActiveMedia has become one of many point solutions used by Sony.000 assets. and it was ultimately seen by more than 80 million viewers in its first season.. Greenwald. In order to maintain consistency of the MTV brand online.
Ianno says. has worked on merging movie and video game properties such as Terminator 3 and Matrix 2. This holiday season. Likewise. the landscape is clearly moving rapidly towards allowing easily-downloadable. will be JAMDAT Mobile." But hope just may be on the horizon.com ) is a Hollywood movie and television producer.. "Hollywood has always been slow to adapt to change. . perhaps Hollywood will finally become focused enough to allow the two to work hand-in-hand online. chainnan of Neospire." is where Hollywood and technology tnight he showing signs of becoming bedfellows. music.seven hours or more. choose virtually any tnovie. a handheld PDA capable of playing downloaded movies. Hollywood is on the verge of some serious piracy problems.COM MTV has used Extensis' Portfolio software to catalog and centralize multiple terabytes of brand-specific images and video files for easy access and reuse." Likewise. the penetration of highspeed access for Americans hovers at only 46%. turn to chatinel 400. say that Hollywood-content makers still aren't getting it. According to Derek Wilson. "With hundreds of millions of wireless phones out there and a rapidly accelerating installed base of consumers anxious for its content." says Dominic Ianno. he occasionally writes about technology issues in Hollywood. and play it in real time. Ianno. Perhaps it will take another Blair Witch-\ikc phenomenon for everyone to take renewed notice." And yet.all without leaving your couch. the mobile gaming company that filed paperwork in July signaling its intention for an initial public offering. with its intense fear of losing control of its content and not yet necessarily having the means to digitally manage it successfully. He is now EVP at Outlaw Productions. the movie company responsible for such blockbusters as The Santa Clause and Training Day. Hollywood now seems willing to consider accepting the technology industry's latest overtures. Comments? Email letters to the editor to ecletters@infotoday. "After wireless. And it'll be incumbent upon Hollywood to actually accept the use of this technology and leverage it to generate new revenue streams. With distribution now set to be ingrained in the same medium that is currently seeing a resurgence in marketing attention." And this. adds Richard Schinner. there's no question that the ability to quickly and efficiently download a film opens Hollywood's content to all sorts of new platforms. Loews Cineplex. In addition to developing its electronic anti-piracy protection and digital rights management applications. without immediate attention as access to broadband increases. It'll become imperative that DAM developers keep these Hollywood'ers supplied with fresh software (and .com. "Our entertainment clients are seriously considering the implications for their Webaccessible content as consumers continue to gain broadband access at such accelerated rates. If Hollywood indeed gets a handle on the piracy issue. He says.EC0NTENTMAG. and to do so in a way that safeguards the creative assets from unauthorized uses. "I have no doubt that the Subscription Video On Demand (SVoD) model will win. and other recorded programming. concurs.strategies) that will allow them to quickly and consistently extend their properties and their brands online. Clearly. Says Ianno. In lieu of a social iife and much to the dismay of his girlfriend. One company to watch. a studio marketing consultant and former marketing executive at The Walt Disney Company. 26 WWW. the notion seems to scare the heck out of Hollywood. like Levey. Hollywood is pushing hard to merge the worlds of gaming and movies. mainstream access to Hollywood content online.. and others. a Dallas-based provider of mission critical managed-hosting services for companies such as ABC Radio. there's a move to piggyback Hollywood content onto the inroads already being made by wireless gaming. It's just in the culture. 10 years after the start of "convergence. formerly VP of merchant bank Europlay Capital Advisors. Microsoft expects to debut its Portable Media Center. [Bi RICHARD HULL (rtch@sportshollywood. widely used broadband connections have cut the time to less than one hour. the future of Hollywood content online might just be the next rising star worth catching. "There's no incentive for the studio's marketing and distribution departments to really work together internally to figure out how to optimize their digital content for the Internet. hut for those willing to take the leap. Although each is wary of the other. LOOKING FORWARD Some. Even Microsoft has jumped back into the fray. Although the study claims that the number of Americans who have downloaded films is around 24%." Levey. A new study conducted by the Motion Picture Association of America and online research firm OTX reports that an astounding 58% of online users in South Korea—where 98% of the population has high-speed Internet access—have downloaded movies. the Producer's Guild's New Media founder. You'll turn on your TV. the next natural leap will be downloadable Hollywood content jutnping from your computer to your living room television. download it.