Starbucks Moves In on Movies

The coffee powerhouse signs a marketing deal with Lions Gate for the film 'Akeelah and the Bee.'
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Starbucks

(SBUX) - Get Report

has made another leap into its role as a marketing powerhouse for the entertainment industry.

The java giant said Thursday that it is partnering with film studio

Lions Gate Entertainment

(LGF)

to jointly market and distribute the upcoming film

Akeelah and the Bee

. This marks Starbucks' first foray into the film business, but the company has already proved its mettle as a marketing force in the music industry by selling exclusive albums from the likes of rock legend Bob Dylan in its chain of 5,000 coffee shops in the U.S.

"While we are a coffee company at heart, Starbucks provides much more than the best cup of coffee -- we offer a community gathering place where people come together to connect and discover new things," said Howard Schultz, Starbucks' chairman, in a statement. "We are always looking for innovative ways to surprise and delight our customers, which is why we are so pleased to be working with Lions Gate on

Akeelah and the Bee

as the first film to introduce to our customers."

The movie is described as an "inspirational" film about an 11-year-old girl from the inner city of South Los Angeles who advances to the National Spelling Bee. Starbucks plans to host movie screenings and in-store promotions leading up to

Akeelah's

April 28 release date. Also, its stores will carry the

Akeelah and the Bee

soundtrack and DVD when they become available this year. The company didn't disclose financial terms of the deal.

While it's hard to quantify the value of Starbucks' entertainment activities for investors, its strategy is increasingly reminiscent of

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

early partnerships with

Disney

(DIS) - Get Report

, efforts that planted both brands in the minds of a generation of children.

Starbucks, on the other hand, targets baby boomers, a large and wealthy crowd that is facing retirement, making it a coveted demographic for investment strategists. In addition to Dylan, the company has signed deals with Ray Charles, Alanis Morissette and The Rolling Stones, among others.

Last summer,

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

followed Starbucks' lead, signing an exclusive deal for an album by country music star Garth Brooks.

Shares of Starbucks were recently down 5 cents, or 0.2%, to $31.07. Lions Gate shares were up 6 cents, or 0.7%, to $8.60.