EPIX CMO Kirk Iwanowski on Oscar Series ‘The Envelope’

by Jamie Colunga, EPIX

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Who will be this year’s winners in the race to the Oscars? Any way you look at it, the field of contestants is stacked, which is why EPIX is thrilled to bring intimate conversations with the Directors and cast from this year’s biggest Academy contenders to movie fans across the nation. From Anne Hathaway to Quvenzhané Wallis, Ben Affleck to Bradley Cooper, EPIX partnered with The Los Angeles Times on its star-studded panels in “The Envelope” series and is excited to present “The Envelope Please…,” an exclusive on-air and digital series beginning tomorrow, Feb. 8.

Ahead of the premiere, we spoke with Kirk Iwanowski, CMO of EPIX, to hear about the genesis of the partnership and the series — as well as the surprises that come with producing 13 panels featuring some of the biggest stars in Hollywood.

This is the first time The Los Angeles Times partnered with a network on their celebrated screening series, The Envelope. How did this partnership come about?

KI: Having produced Academy campaigns in the past, I was very familiar with “The Envelope” and recognized that there was an opportunity to bring these intimate conversations and compelling content to a much wider audience. Fortunately, the LA Times was familiar with the growing profile of EPIX and valued our ability to extend the reach of this series to consumers across multiple platforms, which ultimately led to the collaboration.

From our standpoint, working with The LA Times on the series was a natural fit – it reinforces our WE GET BIG MOVIES positioning in the marketplace, allows us to continue to deliver against the brand promise of providing the most immersive movie experience for the entertainment enthusiast and establishes a strong foothold for the network in Hollywood and the creative communities on both coasts.

How did you measure the success of the partnership?

KI: Success for us was based on several critical elements:

  • A-List Talent. Were we able to secure the Directors and Actors our subscribers would be interested in and ultimately select those movies with the greatest likelihood for a nomination come Awards Season? Fortunately EPIX and the LA Times were able to deliver on both accounts.
  • Immediate Turnaround. Since this had never been done before, would we able to produce, edit and clear the panels in a 24-hour window so they could be streamed on EpixHD.com and the LATimes.com and syndicated to our digital partners including Entertainment Tonight, Movietickets.com and Hollywood.com? It wasn’t without some loss of hair, but we pulled it off with an unlimited supply of caffeine for the production team.
  • Engaging Content. Would the content connect with EPIX subscribers, LA Times readers and general movie fans online? The campaign is still live and the numbers are coming in in real time, but to date, the LA Times has had almost six times more views of the content than any time in the past; 20% of all visitors who streamed the content online, watched the segments in their entirety and for the first time ever, clips from the series broke the top 10 list of video views on LATimes.com during the duration of the program.

Any unforeseen obstacles?

KI: Fortunately we didn’t have to deal with any “no shows,” but we were pleasantly surprised with three unannounced guests – George Clooney (Producer) and Bryan Cranston (co-star) joined the rest of the cast and Director, Ben Affleck from ARGO, and William H. Macy joined co-star Helen Hunt from THE SESSIONS.  While there were many memorable moments not fit for print – a few that are free to share include David O’ Russell (Director, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK) hunting down Ben Affleck for tips on how to shoot in Boston, Kathryn Bigelow’s (Director, ZERO DARK THIRTY) noticeable awe in meeting Ang Lee (Director, LIFE OF PI) for the first time and the audible gasp in the audience when Matthias Schoenaerts (Star, RUST & BONE) arrived on stage, a clear sign that he’s well on his way to becoming PEOPLE Magazine’s Sexiest Man of the Year.

For more clips, information and schedule, check out the video below and visit epixhd.com/envelope-screening-series/

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