New Line now online

Upfront buy puts studio on AOL's screens

NEW YORK — New Line Cinema linked up Thursday with America Online in what’s being billed as “the largest online-only upfront media buy by a movie studio.”

The 16-month package of multi-million-dollar promotions and advertising gives New Line a major presence on the AOL Movies main screen and promotes its films throughout the AOL Entertainment Channel, AOL Chat areas, Entertainment Asylum, AOL.COM and Digital City.

AOL, which has a run rate of $1 billion in advertising, has more than 100 advertisers spending in excess of $1 million with the service.

The New Line deal, however, marks the first buy of its kind by a studio, ensuring for its indie-oriented slate what Myer Berlow, AOL’s senior VP for interactive marketing, called “great real estate.”

As an example, Berlow noted that AOL users are more than four times as likely to go to a movie on its opening weekend than the general population.

He also cited an exit poll that revealed 25% of those attending “The Full Monty” last year were AOL users.

Such statistics aren’t lost on Robert Friedman, New Line’s co-chairman of worldwide marketing, who negotiated the deal for the studio.

Internet portal

After pointing out that AOL, in combination with its Netscape unit, delivers Internet access to 72% of users, Friedman said: “New media’s very important to us because the audience for our films includes such a large group of early adopters.”

Friedman also had no hesitation in jumping online with a much bigger commitment than much larger studios.

“If you don’t do this intrusively, and just dabble instead, you could go unnoticed,” he said.

He added that it helped to be backed by the resources of parent-company Time Warner while exercising the “guerrilla marketing” instincts of an independent studio.

Friedman also pointed out the “ancillary” benefit of AOL’s eventually integrating recently acquired MovieFone into the basic Web site.

“This deal will give us the kind of placement that won’t be available a year from now,” he said.

As a part of its online effort, New Line will create special areas linked to AOL for each of its movies.

The sites will not only contain such details as the films’ casts, release dates and storylines but inform moviegoers of convenient locations at which to see the picture.

Cannes, baby

There will also be plenty of special events, such as a live feed to AOL of Mike Myers, as the character of Austin Powers, cavorting at the Cannes Film Festival.

AOL president and chief operating officer Bob Pittman, who worked with Friedman in the early days of MTV, called New Line “far ahead of the curve in fully recognizing the promotional power of the interactive medium.”

“Not only is New Line getting their message out to the right audience,” Pittman said, “but AOL members and users are getting fast and convenient information on the movies they want to see.”