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DAILY NEWS: Dotcom Blues in Hollywood; "Blair Witch" Back

DAILY NEWS: Dotcom Blues in Hollywood; "Blair Witch" Back




by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE

>> Bad News For Hollywood Beyond Pop.com: Shockwave and Scour Layoffs


(indieWIRE/ 9.7.00) -- It has not been a good week for the Hollywood's
online entertainment efforts. The business took a hit with the fall of
Pop.com earlier this week and yesterday came the news that Shockwave is
abandoning its big name entertainment content in favor of interactive
gaming. Hollywood trade publication Variety broke the news in yesterday's
edition.


The news knocks the wind out of the sails ofindustry executives who
hoped the Internet would be a cash cow for creative talent -- the site was
known for paying top dollar for content from name Hollywood contributors.
According to the paper, Shockwave is laying off the 20 people who work on
the site's projects with filmmakers Tim Burton, James L. Brooks, Matt Stone & Trey Parker and David Lynch, as well as actors/performers Jim Belushi and Chris Kattan.


In other news, Scour, the entertainment portal for sharing entertainment
content that is backed by Mike Ovitz, announced that it is laying off 52 of
its 64 employees. The move, according to the Digital Coast Weekly (DCW),
came after the site failed to secure funding in light of a copyright suit
that has been brought against it by the MPAA.


In a Scour statement published by DCW, the company indicated that it intends
to "conduct business as usual" even with the smaller staff.


In a summary published yesterday, Forrester analyst Eric Scheirer endorsed
the online efforts taking place outside of the Hollywood system. In
examining the reasons for the failure of Pop.com, Scheirer faulted the
company for not embracing "democratization" by over-hyping its Hollywood
pacts. "Smaller players like AtomFilms and Eveo will lead the way," offered
the analyst. Continuing, Scheirer criticized "potential Pop.com
competitors" like Psuedo, Z.com and Honkworm, who are exploring interactive entertainment. Scheirer explained, "Until this concept clarifies, vertical
niche sites like Undergroundfilm.com will have more reach."
[Eugene Hernandez]

>> The Witch is Back: "Blair" Hype Kicking Off Tomorrow


(indieWIRE/ 9.7.00) -- The next installment of "The Blair Witch Project,"
dubbed "Book of Shadows Blair Witch 2," will officially launch its
marketing campaign this week. The first footage of the movie is shown in
the BW2 trailer that will screen in front of the Artisan release "The Way
of the Gun
" (opening tomorrow). Meanwhile, the trailer will hit the
Internet via the Blairwitch.com site on Monday, Artisan spokesperson Maria
Ho
told indieWIRE yesterday.


indieWIRE got a sneak peak at 20 minutes of the new Blair Witch for an
article in the new issue of ifcRANT Magazine (a co-venture with the
Independent Film Channel). As shown in the clips, the movie begins with a
look at the hype that surrounded the first Blair Witch. It continues by
exploring Burkittsville local Jeff Donovan, leader of the Blair Witch Hunt
(www.blairwitch-hunt.com), a company that is hoping to cash in on that hype
by leading tours into the mysterious woods nearby. A group of kids (played
by a new crop of unknown actors) head into the forest with Donovan to try to
find out what really happened and, of course, things just don't quite go as
expected.


"Though the promo reel guards the actual machinations of the plot," wrote
indieWIRE Senior Editor Anthony Kaufman in the ifcRANT article, "it looks
like 'Scream 2' meets 'Nightmare on Elm Street' meets, well, 'The Blair
Witch Project'." The film is directed by acclaimed documentary maker Joe
Berlinger
("Brother's Keeper," "Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin
Hood Hills
").


For a sequel built around its own hype (or over-hype), the Artisan
marketing plan will be an interesting one to watch unfold. At a price
tag of $22 million according to Artisan Marketing President Amorette Jones,
the success of the first Blair Witch will be hard to match.


"It's like apples and oranges," Jones told indieWIRE's Anthony Kaufman in
the ifcRANT article, "With the second installment, we're taking into
consideration that it's difficult, if not impossible, to capture lightening
in the bottle twice."


[The complete article is available on the ifcRANT website (site registration
required) at:
http://www.ifcrant.com/2000vol3/blair_hype_project.html.]

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