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Dot-coms offer one stop shopping

Websites like Filmbazaar, Reelplay, others will blanket Cannes

Industryites don’t have to look further than the Web to know that it’s a seller’s market out there.

Over the past six months, a slew of e-trepreneurs have unveiled their latest dot-com endeavors — Filmbazaar, Showbizdata, Filmfinders, Reelplay, Screen Exchange, Rightsmart, Onlinefilmsales — with promises of being the one-stop online marketplace to buy and sell territorial rights to pics worldwide.

But in their attempts to broach the film festival circus, will these sites take off in a biz that lives on schmoozing?

“We’re not trying to replace the major film markets,” says Kyle Scrimgeour, chairman and CEO of Filmbazaar.com, which initially bowed at the American Film Market in Santa Monica, Calif., in March with a major marketing blitz.

“You can’t replace the face-to-face meetings, but you can make markets like Cannes, AFM and Mifed more effective. By the time you get there, you don’t need to sit through a two-hour film,” he says. “You can slide a contract across the table. You can do all the homework before the markets.”

Filmbazaar plans to make an equally aggressive marketing trek to Cannes in May where it plans to mount an outdoor print campaign, sponsor the Moving Pictures party and install kiosks at hotels to show off its new offerings, which include a rights management tracking technology that will allow buyers and sellers to view available rights for titles in all territories. The service will roll out over the next six months.

Similarly, Internetstudios.com will be launching Onlinefilmsales.com at the American Pavilion at Cannes on May 10 to feature rights tracking, conduct sales transactions, corporate profiles of sales companies, a messaging system, a search feature, and stream trailers and other marketing materials.

“Cannes will be huge for us,” says Heidi Lester, CEO of Internetstudios.com. “It builds awareness and gets buyers registered. It helps us get these people on board and start using the site.”

Other players are also expected to journey to the Croisette to tout services such as tracking film deals instantly or conducting sales online.

“A lot of people think the film industry begins and ends in Hollywood,” says Jeremy Kehoe, director of communications for Filmbazaar. “If you take a step back, you discover the global perspective and realize there’s definitely an opportunity there.”

The missing opportunity is to provide a homework tool to marketgoers — a forum for buyers and sellers to conduct business year-round.

“There’s a place for us that’s complementary to the festivals,” says Mip Interactive sales director Pascal Perzo. “Buyers will be able to find something very specific very quickly that may have before taken three months.”

With at least six sites hitting the market within a few months, there may be too many companies trying to provide a good thing. The result could be confused buyers and sellers, rather than informed ones.

“If I’m a new buyer, which one of these sites that’s offering the same thing — supposedly in the best way — do I go to?” asks one festival organizer. It’s a predicament that is not going unnoticed — and consolidation may already be on the horizon.

At the AFM, senior reps from the Cannes Market, consulting firm Filmfinders, online industry production database Showbizdata and Mip Interactive said they plan to roll out a combined Web site, CannesMarket.com, in time for this year’s French fest.

Free to Cannes’ nearly 7,000 registrants, the official resource of the market will list film and TV details on over 4,000 projects from over 2,000 companies and include rights info, current acquisition deals, trailers, press kits and an events schedule.

It’s also planning to offer password-based transactional tools for online buying and selling in the next few years. Already, the coalition will enable buyers and sellers to do business online year-round.

“We originally conceived our Internet support service to benefit our clients, so by joining forces with Showbizdata and Mip, we are better serving the entertainment trade,” Sydney Levine, prexy of Filmfinders, said during the marriage announcement at the AFM. “This puts us miles ahead of everyone else.”

Filmfinders and Showbizdata’s initial joint effort bowed during the Toronto Intl. Film Festival in November.

While Filmbazaar was the official destination for the AFM, CannesMarket.com is looking to boost its membership with its official status on the Croisette.

“It’s very important for us to be associated with Cannes,” Eberle says. “Cannes is going to be a nightmare. People will spend millions of dollars in marketing and not know how it’s going to come back. Our association gives people the idea that you are the real deal. It give us more authority over the other guys.

“At the end of the day, you can’t expect buyers and sellers to use your system the way you expect them to. It’s about listening to them and working with them. The one that’s used the most will offer the best services and provide the best information.”

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