Lori McCreary is founder and chairman of the board at ClickStar, and CEO of Revelations Entertainment, the company she founded with partner Morgan Freeman in 1996. Her founding of ClickStar furthers her commitment to being an integral part of how new technology impacts the entertainment industry.
Jodi Harris: What can you tell us about Revelations Entertainment/Reveal Entertainment's latest production, "10 Items or Less" and its model for distribution? Will the film be available at retail outlets like iTunes, or will it only be available at a certain site?
Lori McCreary: "10 Items or Less" will have a traditional theatrical release on Dec. 1. It will be released for broadband download on Dec. 15 on the new service CLICKSTAR, which was co-founded by Revelations Entertainment and Intel last year. It will be exclusive to the ClickStar service. It's important to note that we are offering more than just the film once it reaches its broadband release window. There will be an entire page dedicated to the film that features cast and crew interviews, behind-the-scenes video, et cetera-- all of the extra features you might find on a DVD.
Harris: Your partner at ClickStar, actor Morgan Freeman, has been quite vocal in his support for new distribution technology. As a producer and filmmaker yourself, what do you see as the advantages of this shift in distribution schedules?
McCreary: I think we need to look at the music industry and what they went through five years ago with illegal downloads. This is where the film industry is headed, and if we can prepare for it and monetize it before illegal downloads of filmed content become rampant, we will be able to provide the consumer with a legal, easy and affordable way of viewing their favorite entertainment content.
Harris: When you last spoke with , you mentioned that ClickStar targets mid-budget films that usually have a limited theatrical release. However, "10 Items" did very well at the Toronto International Film Festival, and has an Oscar winning actor as its star. How did this affect your marketing strategy?
McCreary: We are still moving ahead with our original marketing plan, but using Toronto's buzz to give us the momentum we need to market the film. It helps!
Harris: "Bubble," the first film to experiment with simultaneous releases in theaters, on home video and on the internet, never garnered much buzz, or revenue, on any platform. What makes "10 Items or Less" better positioned for success with this distribution strategy?
McCreary: As you just mentioned, the film is a crowd-pleaser and did well with critics and general audiences alike in Toronto. We think the film has the components that a movie needs to be successful: the acting, writing, direction, cinematography, et cetera, and these will translate into box-office and broadband dollars.
Harris: What are the main challenges of marketing a movie with simultaneous releases? Are there any advantages to the decrease in time to market the full cycle of the film?
McCreary: "10 Items" will benefit from theatrical and broadband opening closely together because there is one marketing campaign that will drive people to the theaters or to ClickStar. If this was the typical release, the spend and campaign would happen once for the theatrical release and an additional spend would happen for the ClickStar release.
Harris: Over the past year, the ability to download TV shows and watch on multiple, mobile formats has emerged, and is gaining acceptance much more quickly than many analysts anticipated. Do you see the same thing happening for movies? What do you think are potential barriers to commercial acceptance and viability?
McCreary: I think given the wide variety of content available on so many devices so easily, film is next! Broadband speed, continued ease of use and rich film services will help drive commercial acceptance and viability.
Harris: Do you think the ability to view -- and eventually share -- movies online will bring about a user-generated film movement, much like broadband video is popularizing user-generated video content?
McCreary: Absolutely. We are creating a forum at ClickStar for film buffs to congregate and share their experiences. ClickStar, unlike its competitors, offers an immersive experience for film fans that goes beyond just downloading a film. We think this is one of the elements that will set us apart from the herd.
Jodi Harris is managing editor of iMedia Connection's Entertainment Spot. .