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Big Entertainment Springs for Hollywood.com

Big Entertainment, Inc. Monday purchased entertainment firm Hollywood Online from parent company Times Mirror in a stock deal worth $31 million.

Hollywood Online's hollywood.com site provides movie and celebrity-related multimedia information, including editorial content and movie show times for about 75 percent of screens nationwide.

Big Entertainment currently owns and operates bige.com, an e-commerce studio store offering merchandise from Hollywood studios, TV networks and popular culture.

Big Entertainment plans to incorporate hollywood.com's content in its e-commerce Web site to leverage itself in the entertainment market. The combined Internet properties will operate under the hollywood.com name upon completion of the purchase, which is expected to close within 90 days.

Under today's agreement, Big Entertainment will issue $31 million in newly-issued stock to The Times Mirror Co. One Times Mirror representative will join the Big Entertainment board of directors, bringing the board's total membership to nine.

"The combination of hollywood.com and bige.com will powerfully extend the reach of both Web sites," said Thomas Unterman, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Times Mirror. "We are looking forward to becoming a shareholder in BigE."

As part of the agreement, the combined Web site will continue an exclusive marketing agreement with the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) to promote the site on-screen in NATO theaters. The Web site will also become the exclusive studio store for the Los Angeles Times Web site, a Times Mirror company.

"The acquisition is the defining event in BigE's transition into a premier Internet retailer in the entertainment sector," said Mitchell Rubenstein, chairman and chief executive officer of Big Entertainment.

"To complete hollywood.com's powerful movie and entertainment package, we expect to add online movie ticketing and other e-commerce products, including videos and DVDs. . .We see significant growth potential globally as we create the new hollywood.com online superstore."