DGA Deals with AMPTP and Without a Box Goes Amazon

Happy New Year to everyone!  A couple of week’s rest over the holidays and now we’re back, ready to face 2008.  Two industry-related items in the news today really caught my attention.  One of them made me think there’s light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.  The other made me feel a little sad.

That the Director’s Guild of America was able to successfully negotiateDGA logo a tentative deal with the AMPTP in only six days (albeit, after weeks of informal behind-the-scenes talks), is nothing short of amazing and goes a long way to instilling hope that perhaps now the WGA and the AMPTP can get back to the table and reach a deal so everyone can get back to work.  See the DGA’s press release for more details. Keep hope alive!

But then I received an e-mail from the people at withoutabox.com, announcing they had been purchased by IMDb.com. Which is owned by Amazon.com. The e-mail sounded upbeat enough (I bolded some of the text):withoutabox logo

Dear Jane,

We’re happy to let you know that Withoutabox has reached a definitive agreement to be acquired by the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), an Amazon.com subsidiary. This presents a great opportunity for all our independent filmmakers, festivals, and industry professionals. The new arrangement preserves the vision that Withoutabox has championed for eight years, teaming it with the Internet’s number one destination for film lovers and film insiders.

 As Filmmakers and self-distributors, you can look forward to more ways to help reach your audiences and monetize your work.  As Festivals, you can look forward to more powerful tools to scout, collect, select, and schedule films, plus access to a vast audience of movie lovers that only IMDb can deliver – more than 50 million visitors a month. As film Sellers, Sales Agents, and Acquirers, you can look forward to unprecedented information, discovery, and connectivity at your fingertips, across the entire landscape of commercial and independent film.

The day-to-day operations of Withoutabox will remain much the same, including the entire management team, our experienced staff, and the dedicated customer service you love.

We look forward as always to seeing you at festivals and other industry events.  Happy New Year.  Here’s to new beginnings!

I know that everything changes, that’s life, but I’m still saddened by this purchase. I’ve used withoutabox, for a film festival I worked, for filmmaker clients, and I really liked it. Yeah, so the navigation wasn’t always the smoothest or the most intuitive, but still, it’s a good site. It’s been all about the festivals, it’s been all about independent films. It’s indie! And now…not so much. They say much will remain the same, but I don’t know that I buy into that. They’re corporate now.  Nothing wrong with that, just a little sad to see them lose their indie-ness.

Don’t get me wrong. Amazon and IMDb are great sites. I use them both constantly. But there’s something about this continuing pattern of vertical integration of entertainment web sites that troubles me. 

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