Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group announced an agreement today to acquire Flixster, a popular movie discovery application company that includes review site Rotten Tomatoes. Warner Bros. said in the announcement that it will utilize Flixster to launch initiatives designed to grow digital content ownership.
What does this mean for Flixster? Warner says that Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes will both remain completely independent. Flixster will be getting into content distribution through Warner Bros., a big leap in scope and functionality for a company that provides applications and access to reviews. Warner says that it will tie Flixster in with its announced "Digital Everywhere" application designed to organize and access consumers' digital libraries from any device.
"Driving the growth of digital ownership is a central, strategic focus for Warner Bros.," said Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group in a press release. "The acquisition of Flixster will allow us to advance that strategy and promote initiatives that will help grow digital ownership."
Warner Bros. thinks that the combination of Flixster/Rotten Tomatoes, Digital Everwhere and its support of the UltraViolet format will be part of a winning platform to "give consumers even more freedom, utility and value for their digital purchases." UltraViolet will launch later this year as cloud-based storage to give consumers the ability to watch digital media across multiple platforms.
According to Warner, the Flixster application has been downloaded 35 million times between Android, iOS and BlackBerry operating systems. Rotten Tomatoes serves critiques to 12 million unique monthly visitors and has grown a robust movie reviewing community. Flixster acquired Rotten Tomatoes in Jan. 2010 from IGN Entertainment, a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Rotten Tomatoes features around 2.3 billion user reviews, 500,000 critic reviews and 35,000 trailers and videos.
It is doubtful that Warner Bros. will be able to use the partnership with Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes to influence or silence negative reviews of its movies. The site and community is just too big to be controlled, even by one of the biggest movie studios in the world. To temper Rotten Tomatoes, Warner Bros. would have to shutdown the site entirely. After having paid for it, that does not seem likely, especially considering that a replacement would pop up on the Internet almost immediately.