HOLLYWOOD, May 25, 2000 - Imagine you're the Paramount promo person in charge of the studio's official "Shaft" Web site. Then imagine you try to register the no-brainer URL -- www.shaft.com. Now envision (bare with us here) your frustration in finding that you've been beaten to the punch. Not only is the URL registered, but it's been taken by, ahem, The Ultimate Penis and Parts Resource Center, which is exclusively dedicated to the fine techniques of penile enlargement.
This experience is not uncommon in the crowded cyber real-estate market. And with more and more Web sites springing up on the Net, fewer of the so-called "good" and/or "cool" dot.com names are available. To movie studios, the URL shortage means execs have to be more creative -- no more with the tagging a dot.com (or, sometimes, a dot.net) at the end of a movie title.
"Of course, our first choice is to use the film's title as its [official] site's address. [But when that is taken,] we usually just add [the words] 'the film' or 'the movie' after the title. We just don't want to give money to the cyber squatters [who have registered those domain names]," a DreamWorks spokesman tells Hollywood.com.
And if adding 'the film' or 'the movie' still doesn't do it, try throwing in a hyphen (or two) somewhere in the URL, just like "Shaft" people did -- www.shaft-themovie.com.
While some of the registered sites thwarting Hollywood's big plans are indeed the workings of opportunistic net squatters, many are homes to legitimate businesses.
Here's a rundown of some recent (and upcoming) films, their Web site URLs and the Web site URLS that sound like they could be the official sites (but aren't).
Film: "Battlefield Earth," John Travolta's sci-fi homage to L. Ron Hubbard. Studio site: The dot.net default, www.battlefieldearth.net. Not-the-studio site: www.battlefieldearth.com (Run by the Hubbard camp.)
Film: "Gladiator," the Russell Crowe Roman epic. Studio site: www.gladiator-thefilm.com Not-the-studio site: www.gladiator.com (Anon-op site presumably owned by cyber squatters.)
Film: "Shanghai Noon," the new Jackie Chan flick. Studio site: www.studio.go.com/movies/shanghainoon/shang_intro.html Not-the-studio site: www.shanghainoon.com (An e-commerce page selling a travel guide for the city of Shanghai.)
Film: "X-Men," the flashy adaptation of the comic series coming out this summer. Studio site: www.x-men-the-movie.com Not-the-studio site: www.xmen.com (A sports site for non-mutant jocks.)
Film: "M:I-2." Studio site: www.missionimpossible.com Not-the-studio site: www.mi2.com (A site that sells modular instruments -- don't ask us what they are.)