Fun and Games Build AMC's Brand

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As American Movie Classics prepares a fall format makeover that will emphasize films of more recent vintage, it continues to take steps to reach film devotees off-screen.

Last week, AMC Reel Clues
rolled into stores. The board game lets players act out scenes or bark marching orders like a studio head — when they're not engaged in trivia pursuits.

The introduction of the board game follows other brand-building initiatives, such as the spring launch of "Movie Camp," a series of one-week workshops in which fans learn about the basics of the craft, then film their own short subjects.

The programmer is also making film-themed vacations available through 11thHourVacations.com.

All three projects "give people a chance to kick the AMC tires off-air and make its brand palpable," said Tom Barreca, senior vice president of new media and development for the channel's digital ventures division.

Instead of leaving supervision in the hands of marketing officials, AMC handed oversight of the game project off to Barreca and his 18-month-old unit. The digital ventures division is also developing interactive-TV content to run on next-generation digital set-top boxes, as well as high-speed content for the network's Web site (www.amctv.com).

AMC came up with the concept for each brand extension, then licensed the execution to another party.

New York Film Academy runs Movie Camp from three locations: New York, Princeton, N.J. (specifically for teenagers), and Universal Studios in Hollywood.

So far, more than 110 attendees have visited Movie Camp, paying $1,500 for the chance to take their turn at filmmaking. So far, another 100 would-be auteurs have signed up for the 22 workshops scheduled through year's end.

At the close of each workshop, teachers select one or more shorts for possible play on AMC's Web site, with video-on-demand distribution a future opportunity.

Barreca sees more tourism ventures opening up soon.

"We're looking at the cruise business, perhaps tying in with a major cruise line, and certainly doing a Movie Camp cruise somewhere," he said. "And some kind of casino project may take, shape too.

"With all the science-fiction films we're running, we may do some quirky stuff, like an Area 51 tour. The idea is to craft fun trips for film fans."

University Games, creators of board games Worst Case Scenario
(a TBS Superstation series), 20 Questions
and Battle of the Sexes, produced Reel Clues. The game, which retails for between $25 and $30, is carried by Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, Kmart, Toys 'R' Us and Target stores.

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