Studio Lures 190,000 Unique Users With "The Center of the World"

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The Web site for Artisan Entertainment's upcoming film "The Center of the World" has registered 190,000 unique users since its Jan. 24 debut, and traffic continues to climb as the April 20 movie release approaches.


Artisan, the independent film company behind films such as "The Blair Witch Project" and "Requiem for a Dream," said the site's unique user traffic jumped roughly 50 percent from February to March.


The unrated movie -- directed by Wayne Wang, former director of "The Joy Luck Club" and "Smoke" -- revolves around a fictional relationship between a 20-something computer engineer and a stripper.


The Web site, www.center-of-the-world.com, includes an original script and new content featuring Alisha Klass, one of the film's actresses. Wang shot the content exclusively for the site. Viewers at the site can take a virtual tour of "The Center of the World" strip club and can click on silhouettes of strippers to view a performance. They also are invited into a "back room" to view Klass via Webcam and can chat with an "artificial intelligience" version of the actress on a private message board.


"Our philosophy is that the site serves as a stand-alone piece of entertainment to complement the picture," said Amorette Jones, executive vice president of worldwide marketing at Artisan Entertainment, Santa Monica, CA.


Artisan is targeting the movie to independent movie fans age 21 to 49.


Artisan has placed links to the Web site on film sites, including Indiewire.com, Cinemascape.com and DarkHorizons.com, as well as on Danni'sHardDrive.com, an adult content site. The company also is promoting the film in entertainment publications including Nerve magazine and FHM magazine.


Artisan will Webcast a fashion show April 16 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. PST featuring Klass and other undisclosed local Los Angeles celebrities to promote the movie. Jones said the Webcast will be promoted online and through print media, local radio and national television programs, including "Access Hollywood" and "Entertainment Tonight." Artisan is in the process of selecting a Web site to broadcast the event, Jones added.


Artisan will place advertisements in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco newspapers shortly before the film's limited April 20 release in those cities, Jones said. Also, the company is using outdoor posters to publicize the film in those cities. During the week leading up to the movie's opening, Artisan will post information on the Web site regarding where the movie is debuting.


"We are not placing television ads for the film, because that type of spending doesn't make sense for a limited release," Jones said. Artisan aired a trailer for the film attached to last year's "Requiem for a Dream."


Jones said the film initially will open in six theaters with plans to expand gradually nationwide. Artisan has not determined sales goals for the release.


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