Time Warner's ( TWX) Home Video division is set to celebrate the first DVD release in Second Life, the 3-D online world created by San Francisco-based Linden Lab. With the aid of interactive services and strategy company Green Grotto Studios, Warner Home Video will launch the event in Second Life Monday evening to coincide with the DVD release of the film A Scanner Darkly, which hits retailer shelves on Tuesday. "Warner Home Video has been interested in Second Life for a while, and their use of an independent film is a good first foray," says Marc Girolimetti, founder of Green Grotto Studios. "It's a new innovative way to do promotion. It's more than a toe in the water, but it's a test to see about leveraging Second Life in the future." The independent film, which stars Keanu Reeves, Wynona Ryder and Robert Downey Jr., among others, is based on the Phillip K. Dick novel about drug use in the Los Angeles of tomorrow. The science-fiction thriller, in true form, is full of conspiracy theories and clever twists. "The target audiences match right up," says Girolimetti. "They're speaking directly to the customer. This is the ideal person they want. The film has a science-fiction bend and is filled with conspiracy theories, much like Second Life is." The film features an animated, cartoonish element and style, deviating from traditional film-making methods. Girolimetti says is a perfect match for Second Life's audience, something that works to Warner Home Video's advantage.
"The look and feel exactly matches Second Life's look and feel," Girolimetti points out. "Everyone I told this to couldn't agree more. This is a perfect start for Warner Home Video." The event and virtual island design is not only Warner Home Video's first introduction to Second Life but Green Grotto Studios' as well. Previously, the company had done interactive marketing, consulting and developing for companies such as Microsoft ( MSFT), Best Buy ( BBY), Adobe Systems ( ADBE) and DuPont ( DD). Following Warner's foray, Girolimetti says, his company has a fair amount of deals that are in the process of contract negotiations for the New Year. Through examining other launches by real-world businesses, Girolimetti already sees flaws with current business models that he plans to avoid. "Post-launch management has been the Achilles' heel of whether things are successful," he says. "Businesses dump themselves into Second Life and are never heard from again. Our customers need to make this successful by managing this day-to-day operation. It's not about a press event. It's about sustainable revenue long-term." While Girolimetti knows that good press is a welcome addition to any Second Life launch for a real-world company, he realizes that "it's not about satiating the press. You have to rely on the 2 million residents, not the 10 articles you hope to be in. That's our big issue."