×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Flop Pop shopped

Netco iFilm to take over D'Works dot-com

Pop.com, the high-profile but long-delayed Netcaster from DreamWorks and Imagine Entertainment, has fizzled before ever hitting the Web. The much-ballyhooed startup backed by some of Hollywood’s top creatives is about to be absorbed by Netcaster and online film business venture iFilm.com.

A deal, which will more likely be structured as a merger rather than an acquisition, is expected to close within the next two days.

Spearheading the talks on consolidating the two companies is Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen, whose Vulcan Ventures has invested millions in both iFilm and Pop.com.

Allen earmarked $50 million alone to start Pop.com, which was to broadcast original comedy programming on the Web. But he has apparently become frustrated over the site’s delay in launching. The Netcaster has already spent over $10 million of Vulcan’s money to develop its site and secure content deals.

Pop’s handover to iFilm would provide a graceful exit for a venture that has been stumbling for nearly a year.

The startup has been disadvantaged by lack of Web experience on the part of senior management, the difficulty of securing major talent deals, and lack of attention from its principals.

DreamWorks toppers Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg and Imagine toppers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer have simply been too busy with film projects — “A.I.,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Minority Report,” among them — and with running their companies to get directly involved with Pop.com.

Frustrations at the startup have been mounting, with execs recently admitting that the venture was harder than they had anticipated. Reverberation within the dot-com biz could be significant; if Spielberg and company couldn’t create a successful Netcaster, who can?

Discussions between iFilm and Pop have been taking place for weeks. Pop apparently also held talks with other potential buyers including AtomFilms and Z.com.

The future of Pop’s assets and its 90 employees working in Glendale, which include CEO Kenneth Wong, are still being hammered out. Layoffs are likely because of overlapping positions.

If the deal with iFilm falls through, Pop apparently has two other deals waiting in the wings — with either French conglom Vivendi or with Creative Planet.

If the deal with iFilm goes through, Pop, as a branded destination, may never see the light of day, other than as a channel on iFilm. So far Pop has lined up a slate of programming including short films and Webisodic series from Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy and Mondo Media.

Pop’s own recently acquired dot-coms, including Countingdown and UndergroundFilm, would also likely become part of the pact and be folded into iFilm.

That Pop ends up in iFilm’s arms would not be that surprising: Besides the Allen connection, iFilm chairman Skip Paul is friendly with the DreamWorks trio. Paul is chairman of GameWorks, the location-based entertainment venture founded by DreamWorks, Universal and Sega.

After making a splashy announcement last October, Pop has yet to reveal more than a business card on the Web.

Staffers had spoken of a launch date of Sept. 18, but a merger with iFilm all but cancels out such a launch date. No plans for a launch party had been made, and deals for content had been frozen for some time.

“If we conclude a transaction, this is about a partnership,” iFilm CEO Kevin Wendle told Daily Variety. “How we divide up the companies isn’t really important. What’s important is great partners. We’d be honored to be in business with Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

“This brings together some old relationships. We have many friends at Imagine and DreamWorks. It makes sense for us to be talking. It makes sense for everyone.”

More Digital

  • USA Today Mobile Apps Get Oscars

    USA Today Launches Oscars AR Experience to Highlight Work of Costume Designers (EXCLUSIVE)

    USA Today is getting ready for the Academy Awards with an augmented reality (AR) experience dedicated to the work of the costume designers on some of the Oscar-nominated movies. The experience, which went live in USA Today’s Android and iOS app Monday, presents wardrobe from 6 movies in augmented reality, including costumes worn on “Mary [...]

  • Amazon Prime

    Amazon Prime India Greenlights ‘Bandits’ Music Series

    Amazon Prime Video India has greenlit original series “Bandish Bandits.” The show is a musical created by Still and Still Media Collective. The series will follow an Indian classical musician bound by tradition and a pop star whose performance skills are greater than her talent. A bandish is a term used to describe a musical [...]

  • Alibaba Buys 8% Stake in Chinese

    Alibaba Buys 8% Stake in Chinese Video Platform Bilibili

    Alibaba has purchased an 8% stake in the Chinese online video platform Bilibili, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Bilibili is one of China’s top video streaming and entertainment platforms, with about 92 million monthly active users and 450 million page-views per day. Founded in 2009, it was listed on the NASDAQ last March. Alibaba’s [...]

  • Clevver-Logo

    Hearst Magazines Buys Clevver's Pop-Culture YouTube Channels After Defy's Demise

    Hearst Magazines has snapped up Clevver, a network of female-skewing lifestyle and pop-culture news YouTube channels that had been owned by now-defunct Defy Media. Clevver was left homeless after Defy’s sudden shutdown in November; its principals said at the time they were looking for a new home. Hearst Magazines sees a digital fit with Clevver’s [...]

  • "Brother" -- Episode 201-- Pictured (l-r):

    CBS Interactive's Marc DeBevoise on Streaming Boom, Content Strategy, and Apple

    Not everyone wants or needs to be Netflix to succeed in the streaming space. And not everyone sees Apple’s enigmatic new service as a threat. Even as rival streaming services offer gobs of content, CBS Interactive’s president and COO Marc DeBevoise sees the company’s targeted original programming strategy continuing to attract viewers to its All [...]

  • Rhett-Link-Good-Mythical-Morning

    Rhett & Link's Mythical Entertainment in Talks to Acquire Smosh (EXCLUSIVE)

    Smosh, the YouTube comedy brand left stranded after parent company Defy Media went belly-up, may be about to get a new business partner. Mythical Entertainment, the entertainment company founded by top YouTube comedy duo Rhett & Link, has been in talks about acquiring the Smosh brand, sources told Variety. Multiple potential buyers came forward to [...]

  • Pokemon Go

    Proposed 'Pokémon Go' Lawsuit Settlement May Remove Poké Stops, Gyms

    A proposed settlement in the class action lawsuit against “Pokémon Go” developer Niantic could remove or change a number of Poké Stops and Gyms in the popular augmented reality game. The proposed settlement was filed in a California court on Thursday and applies to anyone in the U.S. who owns or leases property within 100 meters [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content