Hollywood Reporter Eyes Data in Ifilm Purchase

VNU Business Media’s Hollywood Reporter trade newspaper bought the publishing assets of broadband entertainment firm Ifilm Corp. as part of a new emphasis on marrying news with data products.

The deal yields titles known to the industry as the phone books to Hollywood: the Hollywood Creative Directory, Hollywood Distributors Directory, Hollywood Music Industry Directory and the Hollywood Representation Directory.

“This is another step in our efforts to remake the concept of what a trade paper is,” said Matthew King, Los Angeles-based vice president of strategic planning and editorial development for the film and performing arts group at VNU Business Media. “We’ve realized that, moving forward, just being a traditional newspaper was not enough. Right now we know that entertainment executives are facing a huge amount of change, and, as part of our strategy, we need to add data products to news offerings.”

The purchase includes Lone Eagle Publishing. This imprint produces a series of how-to books for aspirants on subjects like screenwriting, acting and filmmaking as well as consumer-oriented entertainment books. There are nearly 50 titles in the library.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The sale of its non-core assets lets Ifilm, Hollywood, CA, focus on its consumer Internet business at www.ifilm.com and the Online Texting Exchange. The Ifilm network has one of the world’s largest collections of short films and movie clips to watch online. Its site is a leading streaming video property online.

“They’re focusing on consumers, and we’re focusing on professionals,” King said.

The acquisition comes after The Hollywood Reporter and Hollywood Creative Directory this year co-produced the 2004 Blu-Book, a comprehensive contacts directory for professionals in the production and post-production businesses.

The former Ifilm business information products will become part of The Hollywood Reporter’s entertainment division. The directories’ availability online figures heavily in VNU’s vision for the 74-year-old Hollywood Reporter brand.

“We feel a lot of upside in marketing to VNU’s installed user base,” King said. “We see more and more allied industries, be it technology, Fortune 500 brands or media, that want to reach Hollywood. There’s great convergence between Madison Avenue and Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Hollywood, and so these directories are organizing tools for these other industry sectors to reach Hollywood.”

Jeff Black, former head of Ifilm’s publishing division, now is vice president of information services at The Hollywood Reporter. He will oversee the new assets, reporting to King. A staff of 10 attached to the acquired properties will move into The Hollywood Reporter’s Los Angeles office.

“What’s happening now is, entertainment executives are going to a number of sources for their business information, and The Hollywood Reporter wants to be a one-stop destination for entertainment business information,” King said.

A competitor to Variety, The Hollywood Reporter has a weekly circulation of 38,082 and daily circulation of 24,145. Its franchise includes daily and weekly international issues, plus e-mail newsletters, THR-East via an online PDF file and the site at www.hollywoodreporter.com.

But like many trade publications, The Hollywood Reporter feels the aftermath of an industry rapidly decentralizing and consolidating. More entrepreneurs and free agents are entering the movie business with the help of digital tools.

“Deal making is taking place outside the traditional areas, and we want to be thought of as the place that organizes information,” King said. “We can provide access to decision makers and facilitate connections, and if we do that, we’re woven into the fabric and we become indispensable.”

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