Five months after raising its $7 million series B round, box office movie discovery startup Moviepilot has been spending its haul to expand operations into additional international markets. The German company recently set up shop in London and today is announcing the opening of a Los Angeles office, located in the artsy, beachfront Venice neighborhood that Google calls home.
As part of the expansion, the company is announcing the addition of a few senior executives snagged from prominent names in entertainment and digital media. The new hires include former MEC Global head of digital Amy Elkins, and former Amazon Media Group senior account executive Amy Smith.
“We’ve struck gold,” says founder and CEO Tobi Bauckhage. “Moviepilot is in a far stronger position to service the studios, helping them to navigate social media, and ultimately ensure every upcoming movie is marketed to the right fans.”
Moviepilot is a community-driven personal movie and TV recommendation, discovery, and fan site – the company started out with Moviepilot.de and eventually launched US-focused Moviepilot.com. The sites tie in with Facebook to build worldwide fan communities around upcoming projects, beginning at the rumor stage and growing through theatrical release. The English language site has nearly 4.4 million fans on Facebook, while the German version has 1.4 million. Combined, they’re one of the Web’s largest movie communities, if not the largest.
The idea of the service is both to help fans find entertainment they’ll enjoy, and also to help studios maximize their marketing dollars to engage the “all important first-weekenders,” as Bauckhage calls them. The company has existing partnerships with Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Paramount, and Disney.
Elkins, who will assume the newly created role of EVP Strategy & Advertising at Moviepilot, will oversee all US operations and look to form additional partnerships with major movie studios. While at MEC, and before that as SVP of Theatrical Marketing for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United Artists, she led the interactive media campaigns of countless hit movies. Needless to say, she knows her way around a Hollywood boardroom and brings a welcome rolodex to the international company.
While at Amazon, Smith worked with external partners to drive revenue through integrated advertising across IMDb, Amazon, Mobile, and Kindle. In other words, she sold ads to the likes of Microsoft and others. At Moviepilot she should be right at home as the company’s first US Director of Advertising, reporting to Elkins.
In conjunction with the launch of its first US office, Moviepilot has announced the formation of an advisory board and the appointment of former IMDb head of monetization John W. Gibbons. The startup’s latest financing round was led by London-based DFJ Esprit, also a lead investor in Amazon-acquired LOVEFiLM, with participation from Deutsche Telekom venture arm T-Venture, Grazia Equity, and Creative Industries Berlin.
Hollywood has been notoriously hapless in leveraging new technologies to interact with fans. This shortfall speaks nothing of studios’ desire, however, and creates a massive opportunity for progressive young companies like Moviepilot and its Venice neighbor ZEFR (formerly Movieclips). The addition of seasoned US executives is exactly the right move to ensure that this new venture hits the ground running.
[Image courtesy Kingair42]