'Narnia' Heads to Computers, iPods

The Walt Disney Co. will let consumers watch full-screen, theatrical-quality video directly on computers and the new Apple video iPods starting with its upcoming movie release, “Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.”

Disney's move comes only weeks after the company's ABC television network struck a deal to sell episodes of two popular shows — “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” — on Apple Computer's iTunes online store. Both efforts reflect Disney's desire to leverage its content online and on popular consumer devices.

“Even though they're two separate deals, the idea is to be able to publish content and deliver it directly to consumers, embracing all the technology platforms they're using,” said Jack Pan, vice president of interactive marketing at Walt Disney Studios, Burbank, CA. “Consumers are increasingly on the go, they're increasingly hard to reach and both the ABC deal and ours is to be able to reach the consumer.”

Walt Disney Studios' Buena Vista Pictures Marketing used Cambridge, MA-based Maven Networks' broadband video software platform. The entertainment giant is the first movie studio to publish promotional campaigns directly to video-enabled iPods.

Broadband-enabled consumers can visit the site at www.narnia.com to see trailers, clips, behind-the-scenes segments and interviews on their notebook and desktop computers. Maven software will let them automatically download and synchronize trailers and clips directly to video-enabled iPods.

After its installation, the “Narnia” channel will automatically check for content updates. It also will offer options like the ability to send the link to a friend, check for movie times or buy tickets online.

Maven's software delivers this content in a single package encoded and formatted for iPod, computer and TV viewing. Another advantage is that the software does not tie “Narnia” downloads to the iTunes store.

“This has no Apple involvement,” said Todd Boes, vice president of marketing at Maven. “It does not require consumers to be on the iTunes store. All it requires is iTunes to do the synchronization for the PC to the iPod.”

Firms like 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Atom Films, Clear Channel Communications' Premiere Radio, EMI Virgin Records, General Motors Corp., A&E Television Networks International, Pepsi and Nordstrom use Maven's video publishing, delivery and management software.

“Narnia” is based on C.S. Lewis' seven books on an imaginary land behind a wardrobe filled with diverse humans, witches, lions and crossovers. The books were written more than 50 years ago, spawning an animated movie and a TV series.

Disney's version of “Narnia” hits movie theaters nationwide Dec. 9. Disney is placing tremendous marketing muscle behind this movie aimed at all generations via devices that mirror the mood of the times.

“They're following where the consumers are,” Boes said. “We all know they're on their devices and less on television. You're going to see more and more of movie promotions on devices like the iPod and [Sony] PlayStations, because the quality's good and the device goes with them and it's on their schedule.”

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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