Lionsgate and Comic-Con to launch video streaming service

Lionsgate and Comic-Con to launch video streaming service
As Batman character Two-Face, Angie Rodriguez leads Jonathon Antone, cosplaying as Scarecrow, by the neck in front of the San Diego Convention Center at Comic-Con. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Movie studio Lionsgate and Comic-Con International are set to launch a new streaming video service this year, as viewing habits continue to move online, especially among the young.

The Santa Monica-based mini-major studio behind the blockbuster "Hunger Games" films began discussing the service with Comic-Con nearly two years ago. The offering will be subscription-based, though the companies did not say what they would charge viewers for access.

The online channel will feature original short videos, Comic-Con archive footage, and movies and TV shows from Lionsgate and other studios, the companies said, without naming specific titles.

It's the latest move into streaming by Lionsgate, which last year teamed with China's Alibaba Group on a video service for Alibaba's set-top boxes.

In October, Lionsgate also partnered with Tribeca Enterprises, which runs the Tribeca Film Festival, for a service targeting movie aficionados called Tribeca Shortlist. That product, planned to debut this summer, will be run from New York.

Other big media companies have been busy chasing viewers who prefer watching their movies and TV programming online. Time Warner Inc.'s pay-TV channel HBO just made its HBO Now on-demand service available through Apple TV for people who don't pay for a cable package. HBO Now costs $15 a month.

CBS Corp.'s new service, dubbed CBS All Access, charges $6 a month.

The popularity of Comic-Con's annual San Diego convention has grown as comic-book-themed and otherwise geek-oriented entertainment has increasingly driven the pop culture landscape — and the box-office. Last year, 17 of the top 20 domestic film releases "had a presence" at the Comic-Con event, Lionsgate and Comic-Con said.

On the TV side, shows including "The Walking Dead," "Game of Thrones" and "American Horror Story" have made their mark with the Comic-Con crowd.

For its part, Lionsgate used the 2014 Comic-Con to launch its first trailer for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” the third installment in the blockbuster franchise starring Jennifer Lawrence.

The convention drew 130,000 attendees last year, and passes for this year's event in July at the San Diego Convention Center sold out in an hour.

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