B’buster pumps $2 mil into AFI’s ‘100 Years’ campaign

Ent. co. sponsors TV special, Legends tour

Blockbuster is ponying up $2 million to sponsor the American Film Institute’s “AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies,” campaign, an 18-month celebration of the 100th anniversary of American movies.

Blockbuster’s efforts will begin following tonight’s three-hour television spec on CBS during which the AFI will unveil its list of top 100 movies of all time. A three-month tour of movie memorabilia, called Blockbuster Legends, will also kick off today in New York to bring the celebration to communities across the country.

“Blockbuster recognizes the invaluable role of the American Film Institute in preserving and promoting the rich history of American film that is now available on home video,” said Blockbuster chairman/CEO John Antioco. “By joining in a long-term relationship with the AFI, and supporting the ‘100 Years’ celebration, we are helping to boost public interest in the timeless films that are the core of Blockbuster’s rental library.”

Blockbuster’s 4,000 U.S. stores will be tapped to tout the vid giant’s comprehensive film library. The retailer will also sponsor TNT’s 10-part series of one-hour programs, beginning June 23, which examines the background of the 100 movies.

Customers who make a $1 donation to the AFI will receive a wallet-size reference guide of the AFI’s list of the top 100 movies that contains a coupon good for one rental of a Blockbuster Favorites movie at participating stores and a membership application for the AFI.

The top 100 films were chosen at the end of 1997 by more than 1,500 leaders from across the American film community. All pics are feature-length fiction films made in English with significant creative and/or financial production elements from the United States.

“This list of the 100 greatest movies is almost a test of our cultural literacy,” Antico said. “Everyone who sees the lists is reminded of movies they want to see again or movies they somehow managed to miss.”