DREAMWORKS PICKS FOCUS TO BUY MEDIA FOR FEATURE FILMS: INITIAL BILLINGS WILL BE $60 MIL, BUT SPENDING IS SURE TO EXPAND

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DreamWorks SKG tapped Focus Media, Santa Monica, Calif., to handle media buying for its feature film releases.

Focus already handles media for the studio's TV division. Billings for DreamWorks' movie business are likely to exceed $60 million in 1997, but are expected to ramp up quickly as the studio expands its output.

Focus' initial assignment will be for the studio's first flick, "The Peacemaker," an action-adventure starring George Cloon-ey that's slated for a September release.

FILM FROM 'FROGS' DIRECTOR

DreamWorks' other upcoming releases include "Mouse Hunt," the first feature film from Gore Verbinski, who directed the Budweiser "Frogs" commercials; and "Amistad," a period drama about a slave ship revolt starring Anthony Hopkins and directed by Steven Spielberg. Both are slated to be released during the holiday season.

The studio-founded by Mr. Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen-plans to double its output next year with a slate of films anchored by "The Prince of Egypt," its first foray into feature animation. Also on tap is a co-venture with Paramount Pictures, "Saving Private Ryan," directed by Mr. Spielberg. It's not known which studio will oversee marketing and media chores on that film.

Focus Exec VP-Media Director Carole Phillips said the agency has been eyeing DreamWorks since the studio was launched in 1995. Currently staffed with 140 employees, Focus is expected to add staff to handle DreamWorks.

"They're an exciting company to be working for, committed to looking at new and innovative ways to market their products," Ms. Phillips said of the studio.

AGGRESSIVE MARKETING

DreamWorks already has a history of aggressive, and unusual, marketing. The studio supported its first TV sitcoms-the canceled CBS series "Ink" and ABC's "Spin City"-with ad campaigns that supplemented the networks' own promotional efforts. Focus made spot and local cable TV buys for DreamWorks for that push.

Focus is best known for handling spot media for Sears, Roebuck & Co. Its other clients include U.S. Robotics and Universal Studios Home Video.

Contributing: Chuck Ross.

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