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Monday, December 19, 2005

Christie/AIX lands a first big customer; What Clickstar is really up to

- The Christie/AIX joint venture has landed its biggest customer so far: Carmike Cinemas. Accoding to the press release, the "rollout is scheduled to begin in January, 2006 and to be completed by October 31, 2007." It'll include up to 2300 screens. Carmike is the third largest national movie theatre chain in the country.

- The New York Times has a total rehash story about the vulnerability of movie release windows. Morgan Freeman once again says that his company, Clickstar, wants to distribute movies over the Net while they're still in theaters: "We want to give people what they want, when they want it." The company still offers absolutely no details about how they're going about it.

I had conversations earlier this year with Clickstar CEO Nizar Allibhoy and Kevin Corbett, who manages Intel's investment in the company. Neither was exceptionally forthcoming, but they did say a little bit more than was in today's Times piece.

Allibhoy, a former exec at Sony Pictures Digital, told me, "Our focus is on early window content – content that is available in the first window. [At the same time as the theatrical release.] We're creating what we call `artist-created content channels,' giving the artist a voice to deliver content in a manner that is unique and compelling from their perspective." Clickstar aims to give the artist "a way of reaching consumers, and vice versa – so that the consumers can also interact with a service – not necessarily in the trafitional interactive TV mode – but leveraging the community poiwer of the Internet." Clickstar will give "the artist an opportunity to talk about what they want to talk about."

Corbett said, "The approach at Clickstar is to begin with independent producers – many of these highly talented people who are building movies – not $6 million films by up-and-coming artists – but your experienced artists who are producing and directing their own films - a category in the $15-$60 M range – but are financed outside the studio system." Clickstar hopes to figure out how to make those films available on the Net, over broadband. "There’s tension in the system," Corbett admits. "It’s not an easy project. We have discussed it for over a year."

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