How to ware new platforms

Companies need to decide how to use multiplatform world

Don’t be surprised if there’s a lot of head-scratching going on among film sellers at this year’s Mipcom — in a good way.

To help streamline the process of selling pics, Mipcom exec Paul Johnson has created Cinema Initiative, a film seller’s guide to the marketplace.

With the advent of so many new digital platforms, such as mobile television and video on demand, film production companies are having to quickly decide how to best take advantage of a multiplatform world.

“If you’re lucky enough to own your copyright outright 100% and can maximize across the different digital platforms, that’s going to be very helpful,” says Johnson, who is also director of Reed Midem’s television division. “Our main concern is really going to be about how does a 21st-century entertainment conglomerate start focusing across all these different platforms. If you don’t have the rights cleared, that’s going to be your biggest challenge to going forward.”

One of Mipcom’s main keynote speakers is MGM CEO Harry Sloan, who will talk about how his company’s film library can be used to fuel growth across multiple platforms.

“We’re in the final stages of finalizing the digital rights issues,” says Johnson, “but all kinds of questions need to be answered: Who is going to pay for the rights? Is the distribution company buying the rights? Is it going to be the advertising element? I don’t think consumers are going to be paying for everything. New financial models are going to have to be put in place.”

Johnson is expecting a large spike in the number of feature film buyers from digital platforms attending this year’s Mipcom. How much they will be buying though is up for debate.

Orange CEO Sanjiv Ahuja, who will be delivering a keynote titled “The Pocket-Sized Entertainment Center,” is concerned that technology is not quite where it should be to watch full-length feature films on cell phones. He thinks there must first be an improvement in display technology and rapidity of delivery.

“I think it’s three to five years before people will be regularly watching full-length movies on mobile televisions,” Ahuja tells Variety.

Others though are already taking the plunge. Sprint recently became the first mobile company to pact with major studios (Disney, Sony, Universal and Lionsgate) to offer a service providing movies on a pay-per-view basis for viewing on cell phones.

“Everyone I’ve talked to has told me that they’ve increased the number of contracts being signed and dealt with at our markets,” says Johnson. “A couple of years ago no one even mentioned telcos.”

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