Exhibitor relations

CBS' 'Net buy continues big Web wave

CBS said Wednesday it has received a 5% stake in online ticketing service MovieTickets.com — a venture owned by AMC Entertainment, Hollywood.com and Viacom-owned National Amusements — in exchange for $25 million in promotional and advertising time across the Eye web’s TV and radio properties.

The deal follows six of the nation’s theater chains, representing 12,000 movie screens, officially teaming up at this week’s ShoWest confab in Las Vegas to create a yet-to-be-named Web site for ticketing, listings, reviews and trailers.

Loews Cineplex Entertainment, Regal Cinemas, Cinemark Theaters, General Cinema Theatres, Edwards Theatres and Century Theatres, along with the project’s facilitators — e-commerce investment firms Atlantic Partners and Accretive Technology Partners — will invest some $30 million in the project. The exhibs will hold equal equity stakes.

The deal between the six major exhibs represents an unusual bout of cooperation in an industry whose players are notoriously competitive and have had trouble working together. But as a number of them entered the online ticketing space lately, these new partners clearly felt the need to jump in and protect their turf.

Lone star

Cinemark is the only chain of the group that’s developed a technology for actually printing tickets at home as well as purchasing them, which it will share with the new venture, as yet unnamed.

AOL Moviefone, in alliance with United Artists Theatre Co., has also announced a similar project.

As for competing MovieTickets.com, Infinity Broadcasting Corp., a subsid of CBS, will receive a pro rata share of the 5% stake in the dot-com.

“MovieTickets.com represents a new way to provide a great service to consumers by way of the Internet, which is highly complementary with CBS’ and Infinity’s strong local presence,” CBS prexy and CEO Mel Karmazin said.MovieTickets.com is readying to launch on Memorial Day to coincide with the release of Par’s “Mission Impossible II.”

Upon its launch, MovieTickets.com will offer tickets for sale at all participating theaters in the top 10 markets in the country as well as in approximately 70% of the top 50 markets, and will also include approximately 50% of the top 100-grossing theaters in the country.

The partners are looking for a CEO and staff for the venture.

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