Movie producer Steven Spielberg doesn't hate pay-per-view,
after all. At least that's the inference that operators are drawing from his decision to
offer his Amistad film to PPV this month.
To help promote the film, DreamWorks SKG, which distributed
Amistad, will team up with several operators to create marketing tie-ins with
museums and historical sites, said Emlyn Barrios, PPV executive for DreamWorks.
DreamWorks and the Delaware Valley Co-Op have teamed up to
develop a promotion combining the movie and Philadelphia's African-American Museum, which
is showcasing an Amistad exhibit during September. Amistad co-producer Debbie Allen
will speak to cable customers and political leaders in Philadelphia during a reception
later this month promoting the exhibit, Barrios said.
"It is the first time, to my knowledge, that a
producer will come out and help to promote a movie after its theatrical release [to
PPV]," Barrios added.
Meanwhile, the co-op will provide free passes to the museum
with the PPV purchase of the movie, said Steve Burnstein, co-chairman of the co-op, which
represents five cable operators with a total of 500,000 addressable subscribers. More than
50,000 visitors to the museum this month will also receive PPV handouts, while museum
members will receive mail pieces promoting upcoming PPV programming, he added.
Other promotions for the movie include: a Cox
Communications Inc. event at a high school in San Diego, where Allen will also talk about
the movie and PPV; and a Cox value-added promotion that offers a discount off admission to
the Mystic Seaport museum in Mystic, Conn. The museum is building a replica of the Amistad
Schooner that will set sail in 2000.
Amistad is the second movie that Spielberg allowed PPV
to distribute since abruptly pulling Schindler's List from operators in the mid
1990s. Spielberg objected to the movie being promoted on barker channels next to more
violent and sexually oriented event programming.
Last year, Spielberg distributed Jurassic Park: The Lost
World via PPV.
"We were very happy with how the PPV promotion looked
... We were very careful about how we wanted to market it, and we wanted to make sure that
we had some kind of historical and educational tie-in," Barrios said.
The promotion also represents the first PPV entry for
DreamWorks, the movie studio co-owned by Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.
Barrios said the studio will take an active role in the promotion of future PPV films.
DreamWorks may also be looking to goose the movie's gross,
since the film was a relative disappointment at the box office this past December.
"This is our first film, and the first PPV film for
Spielberg, so we wanted to do something special," she said. "PPV is a big part
of DreamWorks' business plan."