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Major League Gaming, Twitch Win Marketing Deal With Lionsgate

Lionsgate Entertainment has become the first studio to play the marketing game with Major League Gaming and Twitch.

The studio is sponsoring Twitch's and MLG's "StarCraft II" tournament, renaming the event the "'Ender's Game' on Blu-ray Tournament" Event, which will be streamed by Twitch and MLG.TV. It began Feb. 5. "Ender's Game" hits Blu-ray and all other homevideo formats on Feb. 11.

Deal is significant since Lionsgate is expected to be the first of many studios that will turn to leagues like MLG as a way to promote their films to the lucrative young male demo that's become tougher to get their films in front of. That's become an even bigger problem now that new consoles like the Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One are stealing away the attention of more gamers.

MLG has an overall partnership with Relativity Media, essentially guaranteeing that the company's films will also get a push across MGL's various online channels in the near future.

Twitch reaches a community of 45 million gamers through its online video portal, also available on the new videogame consoles, while the MLG Pro Circuit is the longest-running eSports league in North America. Its online gaming tournament system has 9 million registered users. Ninety percent of its users are men, with half being in the 16- to 34-year old range.

Lionsgate released "Ender's Game" on Nov. 1., and while the title of the book it's based on was well-known by the demo Summit Entertainment, OddLot Entertainment and Digital Domain were trying to reach, the film only went on to earn nearly $62 million domestically (it earned $112 million worldwide). Lionsgate sees the homevid release as a way to generate more revenue from the title, and considers gamers as an important audience to target this time around.

"Ender's Game's" plot centers on a boy being groomed for a commanding role in an epic space battle fit perfectly with "StarCraft II's" military sci-fi game set in space.

"Just as Ender rose above his fellow students to become Commander of the International Fleet, one 'StarCraft II' player will rise above his or her competition to become the 'Ender's Game' on Blu-ray Tournament Champion,'" the companies said.

"The skills used to develop battle leaders in 'Ender's Game' are drawn from real world gaming, especially the types of skills used by premier tournament level players," said Anne Parducci, executive VP of marketing, Lionsgate.

The tournament will feature 32 of the best "StarCraft II" players beginning with two qualifying rounds and culminating in one final competition.

Qualifying matches will air on Twitch and MLG.TV, giving the "Ender's Game" Blu-ray considerable exposure. The first rounds take place Feb. 5-9. The championship round takes place Feb. 22, and will air on Twitch. The winner takes home $10,000.

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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