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Warner Promotes Startups During Inaugural Media Camp

31 Jul, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey

BURBANK, Calif. — Warner executives revealed the results of its first-ever Media Camp July 30, giving studios, investors and others the first glimpse of companies that have the potential to change the home entertainment landscape.

“Our history, our business, has always been based on talent, on screen and off,” said Darcy Antonellis, president of technical operations, and CTO of Warner Bros. Entertainment. “It started from very humble beginnings, and here we are today.”

The studio — taking a cue from sister company Turner Broadcasting, which held a similar event this year — selected five startups among several hundred applicants, and immersed them in a 12-week mentorship program, with executives showing them the ins and outs of the entertainment industry.

The startups each received an initial investment of $20,000, were introduced to vendors and investors, and were required to produce a pilot program to show off on the studio lot.

“It was natural for Warner Bros., which has been at the forefront of technological advances within the entertainment industry, to partner with entrepreneurial innovators to mentor them on how to best tailor their products and services to meet the needs of the global entertainment industry,” said Debra Baker, SVP of global business development for Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Four of the five “pilot programs” are either directly or indirectly linked to home entertainment, and every start-up CEO and/or co-founder said their company was ready to make its mark:


Where many content owners use a mish-mash of online platforms to serve as the “home” for a film or TV show, Reelhouse is aiming to be the one used by everyone, according to founder and CEO Bill Mainguy.

Reelhouse offers an online video platform for everyone from independents that want to self-distribute to major studios that want to give their properties a slick-looking home all the way through the product lifecycle.

The platform offers combines feature content with interviews, photo galleries, merchandise, interactive links and more, and is currently being tested by Warner.

Mainguy said his direct-to-consumer start-up keeps consumers interested even after a movie has left theaters, and can be linked to UltraViolet, allowing consumers to buy — and play — their UV-enabled content right at that movie or TV show’s screen. “

We can improve the interface UltraViolet is using,” he said.

John Attanasio, VP of global product marketing for Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, said the studio is interested to see how consumers interact with the content “in this digital world.”


Sean Wycliffe, co-founder and CEO of Dealflicks, calls his start-up theater-ticket deal company “yield management for theaters.” Or for the layman: “We get butts in movie theater seats,” he said.

Dealflicks — which is already being used by approximately 150 small-sized movie theaters — offers tickets, sodas and popcorn for up to 60% off with no fees, with the theater owners deciding how much to discount tickets and concessions. In other words, the studios make the same amount of money they normally would, with the theater owner eating the difference with the price cut (Dealflicks takes 10%). But selling a seat at a deep discount still brings in more revenue than an empty seat, Wycliffe stressed.

“We see this sweet spot for Dealflicks, between opening weekend and the home entertainment market,” he said, estimating the service needs to sell 50,000 tickets a month to be profitable (it’s coming close to 10,000 a month now).

On the home entertainment front, Wycliffe sees the potential for pairing cheap theater seats with advance digital and UltraViolet copies of films, along with merchandising.

“Bundling EST with the ticket itself, we think we can make this industry grow,” he said. The service just recently launched iPhone- and Android-based apps.

“When we first started looking at Dealflicks, what first caught our attention was the innovation they bring,” said Anuraj Goonetilleke, VP of business development for Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.


For Kumbuya, the name of the game is merchandising. And Blu-ray Disc sets as often over DVDs, it seems.

Josh Karp, co-founder and CEO of the start-up, showed how Kumbuya.com sets up mini-communities for most anything (in Warner’s case, The Great Gatsby, 42, Warner Archive, the “Friday the 13th” franchise and “The Vampire Diaries”) and allows consumers (fans) in those communities to purchase content directly from each other or through online merchants.

“It translates engagement into sales,” Karp said.

There are currently 63,000-plus registered users, and with five home entertainment market tests among the communities, Kumbuya is one Warner is looking at closely.


Skit! was arguably the most playful of the presentations presented at Warner, and Comic-Con attendees who got to play with a Mad Max-enabled version of the app seemed to have fun as well.

The app allows fans to engage with movie- and TV-related brands by making personally animated videos (with voice and head shots) that can be shared over social networking sites. Skit! co-founder and CEO Robin Johnson see potentials for advertising and cross content marketing (movies to games) “to keep buzz going from theatrical to home entertainment.”

Perhaps most attractive to the studios is that the content owners get to control exactly how freely and in what ways their content is mixed and cut up by the app’s users.


The only startup without a home entertainment tie-in was Cinecore, a production-level service that lets casts and crews securely share production schedules, maps, files and more via a secure digital file storage service.

About the Author: Chris Tribbey

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