news digest


Martin enters new Dimension

NEW YORK — Francois Martin has been promoted to senior vp marketing at Dimension Films. The former vp marketing will spearhead campaigns, oversee marketing plans and look for partnerships to sell films from the Weinstein Co. genre division's slate. Martin will continue working with Weinstein Co. executive vp marketing Gary Faber in the company's New York offices. He also will continue media planning and promotion work on all films for the Weinstein Co. and the company's home video arm Genius Products. He reports to Bob Weinstein.

Lifetime taps Conkling as distrib'n head

Disney and ESPN Media Networks executive Lori Conkling has been named head of distribution at Lifetime Networks, taking over part of Louise Henry Bryson's duties following the announcement of her retirement. Conkling, who becomes executive vp distribution effective March 1, has been vp national accounts at Disney and ESPN Media Networks since 2004, responsible for executing multiproduct national distribution deals for linear channels, VOD and PPV services, broadband products and interactive TV applications. Conkling will report to Lifetime Networks president and CEO Andrea Wong.

Brand spending grows nearly 15%

NEW YORK — Spending on branded entertainment — including event sponsorship and marketing, paid product placement, in-game advertising and webisodes — grew 14.7% to an all-time high of $22.3 billion in 2007, according to new research from PQ Media. The firm said that branded entertainment grew at a compound annual rate of 13.4% from 2002-07 and is projected to expand another 13.9% to $25.41 billion in 2008 despite slowing overall economic growth and traditional advertising growth rates in the low single digits.

IFC packs Web content in 'Lunchbox'

NEW YORK — IFC will launch its first Web-only series in March, the company said Monday. The shortform show, dubbed "Lunchbox," will air weekdays at noon EST on and will report on new Web sites, events and trends with a independent focus. The show, which the network said will be "funny and edgy," will present a different subject each day, including music, politics and film. There is not a confirmed host for the show yet, and IFC said there could be multiple hosts for the different subject areas. The show will be exclusive to, and details were not available on whether the network will seek outside distribution at a later date.

Netflix joins Blu-ray Disc camp

Netflix has turned Blu. Citing the decision by a majority of major movie studios to publish high-definition DVD titles only in the Blu-ray Disc format, Netflix said it would purchase only Blu-ray discs going forward. The company will continue renting movies in the rival HD DVD format limited to stock on hand, a spokesperson said, and will no longer purchase new HD DVD titles. The decision mirrors rival Blockbuster, which in the summer said it would only offer Blu-ray titles at its company-owned rental stores.

Deluxe splits Rainmaker in two

Deluxe Entertainment Services Group has split its recently acquired Rainmaker postproduction and visual effects company into two divisions. Mark Atkinson will head the newly named Deluxe Vancouver as vp and GM, directing the unit's motion picture laboratory, telecine, editorial and media management operations. Marianne O'Reilly continues to manage the visual effects division as president of the new CIS Vancouver entity.