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Start-up teams with Trimark to offer films online

CinemaNow, an edgy online film studio targeting the under-30 crowd, launches its Web site and forms content partnerships with a handful of companies, including Microsoft.

CinemaNow, an edgy online film studio targeting the under-30 crowd, launched its Web site today with a small collection of flicks and said it has formed content partnerships with a handful of companies, including Microsoft.

In an agreement with Hollywood's Trimark Pictures, CinemaNow's company executives said they plan to expand the Web site's video library and collect more independent films, movie scripts and actor portfolios to prepare for next year's launch of a virtual studio.

The Marina Del Rey, Calif.-based start-up also announced it has secured partnerships with Microsoft, iBeam Broadcasting and Encoding.com.

Microsoft will help CinemaNow prepare and distribute broadband content to broadband home users, CinemaNow said. In addition, CinemaNow will be an official content partner in the Microsoft Windows Media Jumpstart Initiative.

iBeam, a streaming media distribution network, will be responsible for CinemaNow's media streaming. And Encoding.com, which encodes Net content so it can be downloaded or streamed online, will provide CinemaNow with encoding services for a variety of bandwidth rates.

CinemaNow is one of several start-ups jockeying for position in the burgeoning streaming media market.

Earlier this week, for example, Atom Films, an online distributor of short films and animation, announced it had closed its second round of financing, valued between $15 million and $20 million.

Users must own Flash 4 technology to operate CinemaNow's site. Besides watching movies, CinemaNow viewers can take part in a film trivia game or buy merchandise from the e-commerce store.

So far, the site features three movies, including a feature-length horror flick popular with teens, called "Warlock," and the film "Wing Chun," which stars former Bond girl Michelle Yeoh. All of the movies are geared toward the Generation X and Y crowds, said chief executive and founder Curt Marvis.

Marvis, 43, brings a broad background of production experience to the site. For a decade he produced music videos that appeared on MTV, eventually winning a lifetime achievement award.

"It was fun," he said of his MTV experience. "But now it's time to move on."