Fri, Sep 22, 2006 - Page 17 News List

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Steve Jobs?collaboration with Disney is paying off.

The Walt Disney Co has sold 125,000 digital copies of films through Apple Computer Inc’s iTunes store in less than a week, generating US$1 million, Disney chief executive Robert Iger said this week.

Disney expects revenue of US$50 million in the first year from its iTunes partnership, Iger said at an investment conference in New York sponsored by Goldman Sachs.

“Clearly customers are saying to us they want content in multiple ways,’’ Iger said.

So far, Disney is the only studio selling films on iTunes. Disney was also the first studio to agree last year to sell television shows on iTunes. Other studios quickly followed suit.

Iger also said Disney will concentrate more on offering content on its own Web sites rather than selling TV shows and films on every emerging platform. Disney has yet to strike deals to sell content through Google Inc’s video store, for instance, or similar efforts launched by Yahoo Inc. and others.

“We are choosy in terms of the partners we pick,” Iger said.

He said Disney feels confident it will have no trouble finding distribution for its content and that it is focusing on building Web sites such as Disney.com, which will relaunch next year, into “the networks of the future in our company.’”

Iger said selling shows online has not cannibalized sales of DVDs, nor has it hurt traditional TV viewing.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently became Disney’s largest shareholder and a board member after he sold his other company, Pixar Animation Studios, to Disney. Iger said the relationship has helped him better understand some of the technology Apple is developing.

“He has become very quickly not only a great sounding board but a great adviser,” Iger said.

Also reaching out to audiences, Twentieth Century Fox unveiled on Wednesday a new label, called FoxFaith, to distribute it Christian-based film and videos to tap into a growing faith-based market in the US.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Hollywood studio, said that FoxFaith is “a new branded distribution label to house its growing portfolio of faith-based programming.”

Aimed at Christian retailers, churches and ministry organizations, FoxFaith is “a collection of inspirational films they can recommend and promote among their congregations,” the company said.

“This new consumer and retail brand will be comprised of filmed entertainment with a clear Christian message or based on material by a Christian author,” said the unit of Fox, a company of News Corp., Rupert Murdoch’s sprawling media empire.

“We’re in the business of entertainment, not proselytizing,” Jeff Yordy, vice president of marketing at FoxFaith, said in the statement.

The global industry received another boost this week when investors from six Arab states announced on Wednesday they will put up US$200 million to finance the production of more than a dozen big-budget Arabic movies in English.

Arab-American film producer Malek Akkad said the project is aimed at promoting the nascent Arab film industry to the world and showcasing the region’s history and culture.

“They’re nothing political. They are not propaganda. They are purely themed stories -- a few of them would be historical films along the lines of Lawrence of Arabia,” said Akkad, referring to the 1962 Academy Award-winning film.

US actor Richard Gere, who is shooting a Hollywood thriller about Radovan Karadzic, said this week he wanted to meet the top Balkans war crimes fugitive, who has been on the run for over a decade.

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