Trouble brewing for Starbucks?

We never thought we’d say this, but the LAT‘s coverage of today’s the Starbucks / William Morris deal is actually better than Variety‘s.

In short, the mega-brewer has hired the William Morris Agency to “identify additional opportunities in the entertainment world.”

How are they doing with their current opportunities?

Well, Variety points out that “Pic took in $6.3 million at approximately 2,200 engagements over the weekend. Studios are sure to note “Akeelah’s” performance in evaluating whether to follow Lionsgate’s lead and partner with Starbucks.” – that’s about where it ends.

The LAT, however, puts it in greater context:

“When a movie has good buzz, it usually makes well above a $3,000-per-screen average on its opening weekend. Privately, Lionsgate executives had said the best way to gauge the effectiveness of Starbucks’ marketing would be to see how well the film crossed over to non-blacks. Apparently, it didn’t cross over enough. According to Lionsgate, the film played best among black women. Buoyed by tallies that show box-office revenue jumped 60% from Friday to Saturday, Lionsgate is hoping word of mouth will give the film legs over the coming weeks.”

Let’s go one better: Starbucks, despite its best efforts, prosecuted the “Akeelah” marketing campaign about as incompetently as one could imagine.

Keep in mind: “Flight 93” – hardly a feel-good movie, natch – made almost twice as much on four hundred fewer screens. Walk into any Starbucks, and you’d be hard pressed not to see an “Akeelah” sticker on some flat surface. But was “Akeelah” a new blend of Java and Kona beans, or a Laurence Fishburne weepie? No one could really be certain.

This spelled disaster for the film, for Lion’s Gate supported the movie with a less robust blend of TV ads than it might have had it not been relying on Starbucks.

In the end, “Akeelah” opened about as well as an minority cast, low-budget drama could hope for, but far less than the wide-open $9 million jolt of an espresso shot that “Akeelah” distributor Lion’s Gate got by opening “Crash” wide.

For this, the coffee house gets a producer credit and profit-participation? Come on. Any studio should be forewarned going forward: CAUTION: The beverage company you’re about to enjoy a marketing partnership with has lost the plot.

So, “additional opportunities in the entertainment world?” We don’t see a lot of them brewing.