Inside Move: Grounds for ‘Bee’ blurbs

Starbucks pours itself into film biz

What do the words pulchritude, argillaceous, brunneous or prestidigitation have to do with a cup of joe and movie marketing?

Starbucks officially gets into the film biz on Tuesday, when it unspools its promotional campaign for Lionsgate spelling-bee drama “Akeelah and the Bee” at nearly 8,300 Starbucks locations in the U.S. and Canada.

According to the coffee chain, millions of Starbucks customers “will be invited to step inside Akeelah’s journey as part of their daily coffee routine.” For instance, various words used in the film will pop up on all sorts of Starbucks collateral, including cup sleeves.

“Akeelah,” which bows April 28, stars Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett and Keke Palmer. Lionsgate produced with 2929 Entertainment.

Coffee colossus, which also will take a producing credit, says the multidimensional campaign will be much classier and more upscale than the average fast-food chain movie promotion. Don’t, for instance, expect to see life-sized cutouts and the like.

Critical to the success of the campaign was screening the film for thousands of Starbucks employees, otherwise known as baristas. That way, baristas can tell customers their unscripted view of the film, Starbucks Entertainment prexy Ken Lombard said.

The marketing and distribution partnership between Starbucks and Lionsgate follows the java giant’s successful foray into the music retail biz. Neither Starbucks nor Lionsgate would discuss the financial terms of the pact, except to say that the former will get a slice of any profits.

Lombard, who recently set up offices in L.A., said he’s in discussions with virtually all the major studios about similar partnerships but that no deals have been cut so far.

Lombard said it’s “way too early to know” if Starbucks Entertainment would pursue getting involved in newly announced Universal project “How Starbucks Changed My Life,” based on a yet-to-be-published memoir by Mark Gates Gill, an out-of-work ad exec in his 60s who got a job at Starbucks.

Tom Hanks, who is attached to star, will produce with Playtone partner Gary Goetzman.