Revolution starts with ‘Net trip to take on symbiotic relationship with new Studio

Don’t say that Joe Roth isn’t ‘Net-savvy.

Just a day after announcing the structure of his Revolution Studios, the former Walt Disney Studios chairman said Wednesday he has formed a partnership with, making the Netcaster not only Revolution’s exclusive inhouse venue and testing ground for original Web programming, but also a major part of its $200 million annual marketing plan to push the studio’s pics.

Although the involvement isn’t new, details of the relationship are.

Deal with Revolution now guarantees MediaTrip a steady supply of high-profile content, promotional muscle and the chance to easily take its content offline — a major coup, especially for a dot-com formed only in October, that should help boost traffic numbers and advertising revenues.

Staffers of Revolution and MediaTrip will be housed under one roof in a soon-to-be-completed 65,000 square- foot office complex in Santa Monica.

In an unusual move, MediaTrip will be involved in the creation of every movie, television show or Internet project Revolution develops and will have its moniker plastered across promotional materials for every Revolution project, from posters to coasters.

The idea is to encourage producers, directors and talent attached to a project to think about online offerings (online casting calls, behind-the-scenes footage) and original content possibilities (short films, Webisodic programming) at the same time.

“If it’s going to work, MediaTrip has to be inhouse,” Roth told Daily Variety (Roth is a majority shareholder in the Netcaster). “They have to be watching dailies with us, reading scripts, involved in the production process. We all have to be on the same page. We want to make sure talent understands this is part of what we do.”

Specific talent deals for original Web content will be announced in the coming weeks.

MediaTrip and Revolution have already paired up in an online casting call for romantic pic “Tomcats,” which has already attracted half a million votes.

“The idea is to let people be involved in the moviemaking process up through the release of the movie,” said Revolution partner and former Disney exec Rob Moore.

The seemingly close-knit relationship between the two ventures was formed after MediaTrip CEO Austin Harrison was introduced to Roth by former William Morris head Arnold Rifkin and entertainment attorney Skip Brittenham.

“For me, it’s always about the person,” Roth said. “Here’s a guy who’s been doing the Internet thing a long time and who’s so different than studio guys who just see the Internet as an extension to what they do. It struck me that MediaTrip is the working arm that I need to promoting my movies.”

Distant Corners, the dot-com venture formed by former Artisan Internet guru John Hegeman and funded by Roth, will exist alongside Revolution, focusing on horror, sci-fi and fantasy content. Company has a first-look deal with Revolution to transfer its online programming into films and TV projects.

Currently undergoing a redesign, MediaTrip’s original site never featured a flashy destination but content that so far has appealed to Netizens, including popular short film “George Lucas in Love” and animated Webisodes for “Lil’ Pimp” and “Creamburg.”

Other Netcasters have been struggling to either attract eyeballs or even launch, including DreamWorks and Imagine’s own Netcaster

“We’ve been able to accomplish so much in such as short time,” Harrison said. “Now it finally feels like it’s been worth it. To have this kind of relationship is enormous. In order to solidify a new brand out there requires this kind of partnership.”

As other dot-coms are pink-slipping employees, deal is likely to help ramp up MediaTrip from its current staff of 50 to 100 before the end of the year. Company could grow to 200 employees in two years.

The move to incorporate both online and offline ventures is something that many of the major studios have yet to do with their online content partners.

Warner Bros. New Media operates in Glendale, far from its parent’s Burbank lot, as do Columbia TriStar Interactive and Fox’s News Digital Media arms. Recently launched Netcaster is also separated from its Hollywood-backers.

“We are not arguing that we have figured out what others haven’t figured out,” Moore said. “We’re just creating that environment as a movie and Internet company to exist side by side and see what works on the Web.”

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