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Trimark spinoff inks film deals for cult favorites

CinemaNow acquires distribution rights to Allied Artists' and Salvation Films' libraries in an attempt to gain a foothold in the online film market.

Trimark Pictures' online spinoff, CinemaNow, said it has acquired distribution rights to Allied Artists' and Salvation Films' libraries in an attempt to gain a foothold in the online film market.

CinemaNow already provides 100 feature-length films that are available for free streaming. But with yesterday's deals, the Marina Del Rey, Calif.-based company will have rights to about 700 feature films.

CinemaNow chief executive Curt Marvis estimated that 200 of those film titles will be available online by the time the site relaunches in September. Some of those offerings, however, will be available only as pay-per-view.

Marvis said that the company hopes to build an audience by attracting people who are aficionados of specific film genres. It focuses on independent cult hits in genres such as classic and horror.

"I think that...the ability to communicate with your user is what then opens up the ability to successfully distribute that more niche-oriented content," Marvis said.

The competition is already heating up in the young online movie market. Ifilm holds the distinction of being one of the first companies to offer feature-length films for streaming over the Web. AtomFilms sells and distributes shorts over the Internet and has plans to offer video on wireless devices.

Analysts said that while there are different players competing to offer video clips over the Web, they like the idea of CinemaNow's strategy to focus on specific audiences. But, while the deals let the company offer more films, they may not place CinemaNow ahead in the race to capture the online film market.

"Right now the Internet is a lousy movie experience, and's a good idea to provide niche programming," said Jupiter analyst David Card. But he added that gaining distribution rights from Allied Artists and Salvation Films is not groundbreaking.

"CinemaNow is basically getting their feet in the water," Card said.

Marvis acknowledged that distribution of films online is still in its infancy but said that the Allied Artists and Salvation Films deals will push the company into a leading position in the market.

"The Internet is going to open up another distribution pathway, and we're setting up ourselves to take advantage of that," Marvis said.

Allied Artists' library features classic films, while U.K.-based Salvation Films offers mostly horror and cult films.