Lions Gate Studio Puts Films on Net

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In a first among studios, independent film producer Lions Gate Entertainment will begin offering current movies on demand-via Internet streaming-during the pay-per-view window.

Movies due to run on Lions Gate's CinemaNow site ( this year include The Last September, starring Maggie Smith; Steal This Movie, a biographical film about '60s activist Abbie Hoffman that stars Vincent D'Onofrio; Million Dollar Hotel, directed by Wim Wenders and starring Mel Gibson and Milla Jovovich; Skipped Parts, with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Drew Barrymore; Once In The Life, directed by and starring Laurence Fishburne, and The Bogus Witch Project, with Pauly Shore.

Lions Gate hopes the Internet PPV presentations will further benefit home-video sales. The Internet PPV distribution will help make consumers aware of the titles, which they might remember and rent on subsequent trips, said Lions Gate president of home entertainment, acquisitions and new media Peter Block.

A Lions Gate spokesman also said the studio's PPV Internet distribution will not interfere or hurt the studio's traditional PPV business. Rather, it will augment both its cable-PPV and home-video businesses.

The movies will appear on the studio's CinemaNow Internet venture, based in Marina del Rey, Calif. The service, which charges $2.99 for its PPV downloads, launched Nov. 7 with a 1997 Russell Crowe film Heaven's Burning. CinemaNow, has exclusive Internet distribution rights to about 1,000 films from the Lion's Gate, Trimark, Avalanche, Allied Artists, Tai Seng and Salvation libraries.

Lions Gate late last year acquired Trimark Pictures.

Enrique Rivero is a reporter for Video Business, a sister publication of Multichannel News . R. Thomas Umstead contributed to the story.