BMW of North America is looking to extend its brand and its wildly successful BMWfilms.com effort to the big screen, as part of a promotional effort supporting Microsoft Corp.’s
new media format.
The automaker will serve as the title sponsor of a series of feature-length, digitally projected independent films, slated to be showcased nationwide during the coming year. The announcement comes in connection with Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft’s unveiling of Windows Media 9 beta in Los Angeles Wednesday evening; the films will be shown in the software giant’s media format.
“The BMW Films Digital Cinema Series will provide great independent films for theatergoers, and Windows Media 9 Series will deliver the high quality video and surround sound that audiences demand in today’s theaters,” said Dave Fester, general manager of Microsoft’s Windows Digital Media division. “This is a great example of how Windows Media 9 Series enables independent distributors and exhibitors to take advantage of the cost savings made possible with digital technologies.”
Digital Cinema Solutions will handle the physical distribution and exhibition of the films.
While the BMW Films Digital Cinema Series will present Microsoft with a major promotional opportunity, it also will serve as a platform for the auto manufacturer to show off new additions to its collection of sponsored short films, called “The Hire”.
Since last year, BMW has been working to appeal to the hip and technology-savvy by sponsoring its “The Hire” series on its BMWfilms.com Web site.
Created in connection with its ad agency Fallon, the five- to seven-minute films starred Clive Owen and were directed by such luminaries as Guy Ritchie and Ang Lee, and attracted wild acclaim and millions of visitors. Costs for the shorts were underwritten by BMW, and while each piece featured one of the company’s automobiles, the filmmakers were given complete creative control.
The upcoming installment of the films will be overseen by notable directors including Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, John Woo, and Joe Carnahan, BMW has said.
The first full-length film to be shown as part of the BMW Films Digital Cinema Series will be Artisan Entertainment’s “Standing in the Shadows of Motown.” “Standing” will debut Nov. 15 in commercial theaters nationwide, along with one of the new “Hire” series.
The news comes on the heels of RealNetwork’s
most recent efforts to undermine the rival Windows Media format. In July, the Seattle-based firm announced new digital media software that would serve a range of formats — including Microsoft’s own.
That software, Helix, is premised on the idea that an all-in-one solution will prove more appealing for content producers than would supporting the hodgepodge of formats currently available, which also include Apple QuickTime, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4.