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Flixster, Rotten Tomatoes acquired by Warner Bros.

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: This is an interesting turn of events, and one that appears to create conflict of interest.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group has acquired Flixster, which is calling itself a “movie discovery application company” (though I’m unsure what that means) which reports more than 25 million worldwide users per month.

Part of the acquisition, though, includes Rotten Tomatoes, a very popular Web site that – among other things – aggregates review links from the world’s top critics.

A release claims, “Under the terms of the deal, Flixster will continue to operate independently and will expand its services beyond movie discovery to enable digital content ownership and delivery across any connected digital device.”

But it’s the “operate independently” that trips me up a bit. Do we honestly believe that a site owned by an arm of a major studio will not play favorite with that studio’s product? Can we expect a heavier dose of WB promotion on RT? And will it matter to viewers?

Warner’s focus, though, appears to be in the realm of digital ownership, where Flixster has a strong presence on Android, Blackberry and the iPad.

“Driving the growth of digital ownership is a central, strategic focus for Warner Bros.,” said Kevin Tsujihara, President, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and Office of the President, Warner Bros. Entertainment. “The acquisition of Flixster will allow us to advance that strategy and promote initiatives that will help grow digital ownership.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group recently became the first studio to distribute films directly to consumers via apps on Apple’s iOS platform and Facebook.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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