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‘Psycho’ babble

Lions Gate, HSX offer cash for online 'stock'

Lions Gate Films is either making a generous offer to Webheads, or else is whipping up a safe but attention-grabbing PR ploy.

In an effort to rally potential viewers around “American Psycho” before it hits theaters, the company has pacted with online stock gaming site the Hollywood Stock Exchange to offer hard cash to virtual investors — if the pic grosses more than $20 million at the B.O.

HSX has 500,000 regular online traders (out of more than 1 million members). Beginning today, the unusual deal will enable these traders to buy 5,000 shares of “American Psycho” in the form of “Audience Participation Notes” at the price of $1 million fake Hollywood dollars per share.

If the pic grosses more than $20 million in four weeks, players who bought shares will split $20,000 of the film’s proceeds, provided by Lions Gate.

For each additional $1 million the film earns after that, investors will accrue another $1,000 to share.

In other words, for investing fake dollars, Webheads could rake in real ones. However, the risk seems minimal under the deal, which is tagged, “Make a Killing With ‘American Psycho.’ ”

Since it was first published, the Brett Easton Ellis novel stirred up a firestorm of negativity. The film, which hits theaters April 14, premiered at Sundance, where it wasn’t well received.

Whatever its box office prospects, Lions Gate will be stirring up a lot of Internet interest for a relatively small sum. It’s the film biz’s latest move to capitalize on Internet marketing, which got a big boost after the success of Artisan’s “The Blair Witch Project” last summer.

“We’re giving people the chance to buy in to a film and take an ownership stake,” said co-prexy Tom Ortenberg, Lions Gate Releasing.

Web deals

Lions Gate has previously pacted with Pseudo.com to attract other Netizens to the pic by showing a series of original shorts featuring thoughts from the Patrick Batemen character, played in the pic by Christian Bale, and conceptualized by Bret Easton Ellis.

“These people will tell their friends, family and co-workers to go see ‘American Psycho.’ It’s guerrilla marketing at its purest,” adds co-prexy Mark Urman.

HSX gamers purchase, trade and sell virtual shares of movies, celebs and music acts. Should the contest work and attract viewers, other studios, indies, may also consider partnering up with HSX to attract auds. The $20,000 earmarked is a drop in the marketing bucket and should easily result in greater results at the B.O. if contest proves popular.

” ‘Audience Participation Notes’ allow Hollywood Dollars to become real dollars,” said Michael Burns, co-founder of Santa Monica-based HSX. “With this offering, our community has a vested interest in how a film performs.”

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