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Monday, March 12, 2007

ShoWest opens in Vegas ... Eisner dips into Web content production ... What's happening at ClickStar?

- Gregg Kilday of the Hollywood Reporter is blogging from ShoWest in Las Vegas, the annual conclave that brings together theater owners, studio execs, and lots of vendors. The Reporter also has a few ShoWest stories: Dolby's new 3-D system will compete with the system made by Real D. (Here's Dolby's press release.) A satellite services company called Microspace will be beaming the feature 'Disturbia' to ShoWest for a Tuesday screening. And finally, NATO head John Fithian admits he was wrong about the revenue potential of digital 3-D:

    "I'm willing to accept the fact that I was wrong because I did not believe that 3-D would be as big of a catalyst as it is now," John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, said in The Hollywood Reporter's ShoWest roundtable. "3-D is becoming a much bigger value add than I originally thought. 'Chicken Little' and 'Nightmare Before Christmas' blew the socks off all our members. When you can take a product that's been around for a while and bring it out and make $9 million, that's impressive."

- Michael Eisner is launching a digital content development studio called Vuguru, according to The Wall Street Journal. (The LA Times also has coverage. From the Journal's piece:

    "Vuguru's goal is to be the leader in producing high-quality, story-driven content for the Internet that up until now could only be found in movie theaters or on television," Tornante said. [Tornante is Eisner's private investment company.]

    "In the past few years, the development of exciting and innovative digital media platforms and technologies has outpaced the creation of truly great content," Mr. Eisner said. "Vuguru will produce and showcase original and third party content in all genres and formats to meet the new demands of the evolving media landscape."

Here's a look at their first project, Prom Queen, which will consist of 80 episodes, each 90 seconds long. It'll show up on Veoh ( a video site Eisner has invested in ), as well as YouTube and other sites. Pretty cool experiment, but one question: how will Vuguru place advertising on the clips it posts to YouTube?

- ClickStar, the site that is a joint venture of Intel and Morgan Freeman's production company, Revelations Entertainment, has split with its interim CEO, James Ackerman, according to Variety. Lori McCreary, Freeman's co-producer at Revelations, will take over as CEO. (ClickStar's original CEO, Nizar Alibhoy, left last January.) Ben Fritz of Variety writes about the next Internet feature ClickStar will release:

    Company hopes to get a second boost from "Lonely Hearts," an indie pic that will be available for download at ClickStar on April 27, two weeks after it hits theaters. True-crime story, which Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films are releasing, is written and directed by Todd Robinson and stars John Travolta and Salma Hayek.

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