Starbucks pours it on for pic biz

Chain partners with Lionsgate to promote 'Akeelah'

How about a DVD with that double espresso? Or some buzz from your barista about “Akeelah and the Bee?”

It was only a matter of time before Starbucks ground its way into the movie biz, after a three-year run selling CDs alongside its coffees. More than 40 million people pour through the chain’s 5,500 stores each week.

Now Starbucks is partnering with Lionsgate on the marketing and distribution of “Akeelah,” the spelling-bee drama that bows April 28.

In addition to promoting the pic, Starbucks will sell “Akeelah” DVDs and soundtracks. In return, Starbucks gets a presenting credit and will take a cupful of B.O. profits.

Studio insiders say the deal probably will be close in dollar value to what Lionsgate spends in total on marketing the film.

So Starbucks regulars soon will start seeing chalkboard word games related to “Akeelah,” as well as promotional cup sleeves.

Before the pic bows, Starbucks also will hold screenings for select servers — baristas in Starbucks parlance –who then can spread the good word to customers.

Starbucks chair Howard Schultz and prexy of entertainment Ken Lombard — who previously ran Magic Johnson‘s entertainment company — also are hoping to get into the book biz, completing their caffeine-imbued media trifecta.

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