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Movie Distributor Looks To Reel In Shops

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Independent-movie distributor Film Movement is talking to agencies as it tries to extend its marketing efforts beyond cinephiles' word-of-mouth.

The 2-year-old company—run by Larry Meistrich, founder of New York production shop Shooting Gallery—sends DVDs of first-run independent films to subscribers who pay $189 per year, garnering viewers beyond the few cities in which such movies normally play. "The idea is that you can read the review in the paper and own the DVD the same day," said CMO Curtis Hougland.

The New York company wants an agency to build the brand and promote its 10-12 new releases each year. Hougland said he has contacted about seven shops but declined to confirm a list. The work, with an ad budget of $2 million, would include creative and media, as well as interactive, direct and buzz marketing, he added.

According to sources, some shops have declined to participate because of concerns that compensation will not reflect the amount of work involved.

Hougland would not divulge the size of the company's subscriber base. "[Users are] very word-of-mouth-oriented, very self-selecting," he said. "They want the perception that they're making the choice."

That psychographic profile has driven the client's marketing initiatives, which have mainly involved publicity efforts and direct, said Hougland. "We're trying to build an audience with which we have a direct relationship with, not simply open films," he said.