TechWeb

Disney Plans New Direction For Movies.com

Oct 24, 2005 (03:10 PM EDT)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=172900099


The Walt Disney Co. on Monday said it's overhauling its Movies.com site, making it more focused on original content in order to broaden its appeal among movie fans and attract more advertisers.

The new site is scheduled to launch on Tuesday, and will include a variety of movie-related entertainment news and features, including gossip writer Jeanne Wolf's "Hollywood" column. Other features would include "Carpet Burn," an interactive blog that picks apart celebrity's red-carpet fashions at events; and "Hollywood Player," monthly news and reviews of video games based on movies or vice-versa.

Leading the site's editorial overhaul is Entertainment veteran Lewis Harris, who was hired in July as editorial director. Before joining Disney, Movies.com director Harris was the founding editor-in-chief of E! Online. He also served as editor-in-chief at Los Angeles Magazine and Ifilm.

In launching the site, Disney, based in Burbank, Calif., is putting aside its original plans for the site, which was to deliver feature films over the Internet.

"The market has not materialized for movies on demand, as of yet," Dan Sherlock, vice president of Movies.com, said. "Movies.com, however, would be well-positioned, if that market ever does materialize."

Instead, Disney is introducing original content that it hopes will increase the number of visitors, appeal to a broader audience, and keep people on the site longer -- all important measurements to advertisers.

"The online advertising market is growing very rapidly, and that's where we've shifted our attention," Sherlock said. "We feel the time is right to pursue an aggressive growth strategy."

Today, Movies.com attracts a larger male audience than female by about 60 percent versus 40 percent, respectively, Sherlock said. The reason is the site's focus on upcoming movies, which attracts males interested in seeing trailers and reading the buzz on upcoming action films, such as "Batman," or the "Fantastic Four."

Disney is hoping to attract more women and older teenage girls with its fashion news and gossip.

Movies.com is expected to have editorial independence from Disney, which means it will cover news from across Hollywood studios. The new site's content is expected to be "fun, irreverent and have attitude," a Disney spokeswoman said.