Miramax looks to boost tiny Facebook movies market


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Miramax is making 20 of its movies available to rent on Facebook, even as new research shows the social network has yet to become a formidable competitor in the digital movie market.

The independent studio that spun out of Walt Disney Co. last year is offering films, including ‘Pulp Fiction,’ ‘Kill Bill,’ ‘Clerks’ and ‘Swingers,’ on a new Facebook page called Miramax eXperience. Each movie costs $3 to rent for 48 hours.


It’s not the first time movies have been made available to rent on Facebook, as studios seek to capitalize on the word’s most popular social network. Warner Bros. began the trend with ‘The Dark Knight’ in March, followed by others, including Universal Pictures’ ‘The Big Lebowski.’ However, no other studio has launched its own Facebook page with so many movies offered together.

In addition, Miramax eXperience is available on iPads and Google TV.

That could prove valuable, as the inability to watch movies rented or purchased via Facebook off PCs has been an impediment to their success, according to Arash Amel, digital media research director for IHS Screen Digest.

IHS recently released data on Internet movie distribution in the first half of the year and found that Facebook Inc. did not register among the top five distributors. Apple Inc.’s iTunes continued to dominate the market, with 65.8% of revenue, up from 64.9% in the first half of 2010.

Vudu, owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., leaped from 1% to 5%. Microsoft Corp.’s Zune (available on computers and the Xbox 360 video game console) and Sony Corp.’s Playstation store each lost ground, falling to 16.2% from 18.5% and 4.4% from 8.2%, respectively. Inc. stayed roughly constant at 4%.

Vudu has made aggressive moves to expand its distribution on tables, televisions and the Wal-Mart website, which accounted for much of its growth.

‘Movies on Facebook will struggle to even get near the top five without a TV-based or device-based ecosystem presence,’ Amel said. ‘It’s no more than a marketing gimmick right now for studios.’


Miramax’s Chief Executive Mike Lang has been aggressive in putting his studio’s library of about 700 titles online, forging digital distribution deals with outlets including Netflix and Hulu.


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-- Ben Fritz