CinemaNow lands Fox for online pics

Cyberbiz Brief

Fox has cut its first online movie distribution deal, signing with CinemaNow to provide firstrun films at the same time they hit traditional pay-per-view windows.

The first Fox and Fox Searchlight films to go up, perhaps as soon as today, will be “Unfaithful” and “The Good Girl,” with “Like Mike,” “One Hour Photo” and “The Banger Sisters” to arrive soon. Successive firstrun Fox films will be made available day and date with their debut on traditional PPV systems.

Deal, whose exact terms were not revealed, also covers films in Fox’s back library, though the company is still going through the process of clearing rights on many such pics and it may be some time before they are available. Nonetheless, the deal is a big for CinemaNow.

“The implications for us are huge,” CinemaNow CEO Curt Marvis said. “It’s the first time Fox has made a foray into the Internet movie distribution arena. We expect to announce other deals in the future with other majors.”

Site currently has about 900 films available for online purchase and download, about 750 of them shorts and indie productions available under a subscription program. The remaining 150 are available only for stand-alone purchases; they include pics from Warner Bros., the only major studio with a current CinemaNow deal.

CinemaNow did test runs of its service last fall with MGM and Universal, which are backers with Warner Bros., Sony and DreamWorks in a competing downloadable-movie service, Movielink.

Movielink, which debuted in November, is now ramping up its offerings, announcing deals over the past week with Artisan Entertainment, Hypnotic and several foreign film companies.

Fox had joined Disney in a competing online service, Movies.com. But the two companies ended the deal less than a year later, and Disney now operates Movies.com mostly as a location for buying theater tickets, watching trailers and getting movie news and information.

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