Par teams with Habbo for promos

Site will help market 'Spiderwick'

SAN DIEGO -- Paramount Pictures Digital Entertainment and Habbo, the teen-centric virtual world, have inked a deal to create and merchandize virtual goods based on at least three of the studio's films.

Under terms of the agreement -- one of the first between a major studio and a virtual world -- Habbo will have merchandising rights throughout North America for "Beowulf," "Mean Girls" and the upcoming "The Spiderwick Chronicles," with more films possible at a later date.

"We see this as the first phase in a growing relationship with Habbo, which is extremely well placed in the virtual world space," said Alex Carloss, executive vp and GM of worldwide digital distribution at Paramount Pictures Digital Entertainment.

He added that the partnership is both a marketing opportunity to extend and enhance film brands among Habbo's targeted teen demographic and a new revenue stream based on selling branded virtual assets through a micro-transaction model.

Habbo has 1.8 million North American teens among its 8 million-strong global community and in the coming months will introduce a number of Paramount-licensed virtual accessories, including themed virtual clothing and furniture.

Timo Soininen, CEO of Habbo's parent company Sulake, noted that individual musicians, actors and entertainment properties have appearanced in Habbo in the past.

But, he said Monday: "This is the first deal where we're taking existing entertainment properties and bringing them into this world and letting our users experience them and use them for their own activities. It's pretty exciting because I think it's going to open up other opportunities because among our users are fans of these properties, and they want to use them in their virtual space."

Soininen agreed with Carloss that the deal marks more than just a marketing opportunity. He said that while it's too early to predict how big a revenue stream these virtual assets could become, "that virtual items have real value similar to physical goods is a fact of life already."