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IQ News: Closeup - Cinema Paradiso?

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Forget the niche, Movies.com aspires to be all things to all movie fans.
To some observers, launching a new Internet site dedicated to movies, DVDs and home videos at a time when the market is already saturated with both startup and established entertainment sites might be considered foolhardy.
However, if the site in question is Movies.com, the online entertainment destination with the killer URL, the gamble that cinephiles need and want yet another place to find news, products and community on the Web may ultimately pay off. It helps that Movies.com, which soft launched last week, is backed by GO.com, the interactive division of The Walt Disney Co., Burbank, Calif. When it comes to marketing muscle and enticing consumers with their wares, the Mouse House knows a thing or two about how to generate buzz in a crowded playing field. In fact, a visit to the Magic Kingdom is to witness crowd control performed as an art form.
The question, though, is if they build it will movie fans come?
"I think there are a lot of interesting niche sites out there focusing exclusively on new releases, or DVDs or home videos," says Erik Flannigan, vice president of interactive for GO.com. "We are trying to turn that into one universe, where we approach a film from the moment that it's cast, to the time it reaches theaters, to the time that it's released on video."
From the inception of a major studio film, Movies.com will dedicate a page to include plot overviews, projected release dates, detailed casts and credits, production rumors, news updates, and links related to official and fan-generated sites.
Prior to its theatrical release, a film's trailer, reviews, showtimes, and photo galleries will be added to the site, says Flannigan.
He says the genesis of Movies.com, which previously had been used for separate film releases under the Disney Studio umbrella, is based on the realization that the lifespan of a typical film is stretching from the moment it is cast, to the release of its trailers, its premiere, star interviews, reviews and its international release.
"You can come to our site and see any part of that time frame, and we're going to fill you with as much information as we know and can find about that movie," claims Flannigan.
While he won't discuss the site's revenue model or year-end financial goals, Flannigan says that much of the staffing, content and technology will be borrowed from MrShowbiz.com, an entertainment portal within the GO.com network.
With its much stronger domain name recognition factor, no mention was made, however, whether Movies.com would eventually replace Showbiz as GO.com's all-around entertainment destination. Flannigan did say that he expects a dedicated staff of up to 20 people to be working for the new site by the end of the year.
"A lot of the technical and creative people are currently wearing two hats," he adds.
Flannigan believes that with Disney's backing, access to the major studios for content, and a track record of success with Showbiz and its catalog of more than 30,000 film reviews, advertisers and marketers would be foolish to look elsewhere.
"We're not going to be a niche site," he explains. "We plan on being a huge mega kitchen sink for everything related to movies. I think there are lot of great sites out there that are digging up a lot of information, but frankly . . . [much of it's] presented in a disorganized and fragmented fashion. They don't have a lot of traffic. And I'm not sure they ever will."