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James Ackerman, ClickStar

<img src="graphics/intel/CLICKSTAR_LOGO.gif" border=0><br><span class="contentsmall"><i>Variety</i> president & publisher Charlie Koones conducted interviews with Intel and its alliances: Anytime on Demand, ClickStar, Eros International, Movielink.</span>

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  Ackerman

Great technology would mean little without content to match. Bringing these two worlds together is the purpose of ClickStar, a digital entertainment venture founded by Revelations Entertainment, the production company headed by Morgan Freeman and business partner Lori McCreary, with investment from Intel Corporation. ClickStar is providing first-rate entertainment, including original movies made available online immediately after their theatrical debut as well as thematic channels. CEO James Ackerman explains the financial and creative advantages of broadband distribution.

Q: Can you explain what sets ClickStar apart?
A: ClickStar is an entertainment and movie download service that has two things about it that are unique. The first is that ClickStar will be offering a regular schedule of broadband debuts, which are movies that are released through broadband via ClickStar within one to four weeks after their release in theaters. The other area is what we’re calling artist-created channels. These are thematic, often genre-based channels that are the passion projects of some of Hollywood’s biggest names. They include Jersey Docs, for example, which is a broad documentary channel developed and overseen by Danny DeVito.

Q: And you have an original picture coming out?
A: Our first broadband debut is “10 Items or Less,” and we’re building the launch of ClickStar around its release. It’s a marvelous movie, kind of a human relational comedy. It stars Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega and was directed and written by Brad Silberling.

Q: What kind of theatrical release will “10 Items or Less” get?
A: The domestic theatrical release is being decided. The filmmakers and producers decided to wait until the film was finished before offering it for domestic distribution.

Q: How much will it cost to download?
A: We haven’t set the pricing yet, but what we’re thinking about is offering consumers a choice of download-toown or download-to-rent. In the case of download-to-own, we’re probably looking at DVD pricing or greater. In the case of download-to-rent, we’re looking at something greater than the price of a single movie ticket.

Q: What does Intel® Viiv™ technology mean to the ClickStar business plan?
A: Increasingly, consumers are going to the Internet for their content needs. With the extent to which my bigscreen TV in my home is hooked up to the Internet through a Viiv-enabled device, I’m able to go out and get movies, concerts, television shows — all kinds of wonderful content — and render it directly onto my bigscreen TV. I don’t have to buy it through my cable operator or take some kind of package with a bunch of channels I don’t really want.

Q: What would you want filmmakers and distributors to think about when it comes to online distribution in general and ClickStar in particular?
A: Many, many films — particularly the sort of middle class of films — never get beyond a few hundred or even 1,200 or 1,300 screens. ClickStar provides those filmmakers a wonderful opportunity to reach a national audience directly in their homes. I think it is going to result in films that otherwise may not have been able to be made because they didn’t fit into an existing distribution system. Also, the majority of marketing spent for a new film goes in advance of its first showing in a movie theater. ClickStar increases the efficiency of that marketing spend because now the movie is available to a broader audience.

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