Fans Seal Fate of Lionsgate HABBO Movie

On the heels of its theatrical toon debut with Happily N’Ever After, mini-major film studio Lionsgate is turning to Internet users to decide the course of its latest animated venture. The company has partnered with popular online teen community HABBO to host a short film competition that has ten different animated shorts based on the Habbo world vying for a shot at becoming a movie for DVD and online distribution.

Registered Habbo users, who are known as “Habbos,” can now log on to Habbo.com and local Habbo sites around the world to view the animated shorts, which have been created by renowned animation houses around the world. The ‘Habbo-sodes’ will be available for 14 days, during which time viewers will be able to give feedback and vote on whether or not Lionsgate should extend one of them to feature length. The feedback will also determine the genre and animation style of the movie.

‘Through this unique partnership with HABBO, we are going directly to the online community and putting the power in their hands by allowing them to determine what movie they want to see,” says Michael Rathauser, VP of marketing for Lionsgate. “This partnership with Habbo will also provide us with valuable information and the opportunity to explore new and different targeted electronic distribution platforms for content that resonates within a very defined audience. It’s an exciting new world of opportunity.”

Habbo was launched in 2000 by Sulake Corpo., an interactive entertainment company that specializes in developing, publishing and distributing multiplayer social networking communities and games. Teemu Huuhtanen, president of Sulake’s North American operations, says the company has been approached by several major studios but chose to work with Lionsgate because of its success in the teen film market. ‘The opportunity to now position Habbo as a leading distribution and promotional channel of all digital content from video to music is tremendous,’ he says.

This is the second time Lionsgate and HABBO have teamed for animation. In July of 2006, HABBO.com hosted a virtual red-carpet premiere event for Lionsgate’s direct-to-DVD superhero sequel Ultimate Avengers 2, Tens of thousands of Habbos logged in to view 10 minutes of the animated pic before its release.