Microsoft and BMW Bring BMW Films Digital Cinema Series to Theaters Across the United States, Powered by Windows Media 9 Series

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 4, 2002 —
Microsoft Corp. and BMW of North America LLC today announced they are working together to create the BMW Films Digital Cinema Series. The series is a digital cinema program that will feature full-length independent films to be projected digitally in commercial theaters nationwide throughout the coming year. In addition, “The Hire,” the highly anticipated second series of bmwfilms.com short films, will be exhibited in theaters in conjunction with the full-length film presentations. All the feature and short films will be screened in theaters using Microsoft®
Windows Media (TM) Audio and Video 9 Series. This evening in Hollywood, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates unveiled the BMW Films Digital Cinema Series onstage at the beta launch of the Windows Media 9 Series platform.

The BMW Films Digital Cinema Series begins Nov. 15, and its first feature-length film is Artisan Entertainment’s “Standing in the Shadows of Motown.” The inspiring music documentary tells the story of the Funk Brothers, the unheralded studio musicians who backed classic Motown artists such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross and the Supremes. The series will be digitally projected in at least 25 theaters nationwide and will be paired with one of the new bmwfilms.com shorts in the critically acclaimed “The Hire” series.

“The BMW Films Digital Cinema Series will provide great independent films for theatergoers, and Windows Media 9 Series will deliver the high-quality video and surround sound that today’s audiences demand in theaters,” said Dave Fester, general manager of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft. “This is a great example of how Windows Media 9 Series enables independent distributors and exhibitors to take advantage of the cost savings made possible with digital technologies.”

“We are proud to be part of a program that will make accessible the work of emerging filmmakers who push boundaries, take risks and challenge us to see a subject in an entirely new light,” said Jim McDowell, vice president of marketing for BMW of North America.

In association with Digital Cinema Solutions, which will facilitate the physical distribution and exhibition of the films, 25 theaters will be equipped with digital projection equipment. Microsoft and BMW will work with a range of companies, such as Artisan Entertainment, to select new films to be screened digitally in the participating venues. The features also may open in other conventional theaters in each market, in accordance with the distributor’s general release plans for each movie.

About bmwfilms.com

Hailed by critics across the country as “groundbreaking,” with a “cinema connoisseur’s dream team of directors,” “The Hire” Internet film series received international acclaim when it premiered in 2001 with original short films directed by five of Hollywood’s most noted directors.

More than 13 million film views were registered last year on the digital-quality streaming video Web site bmwfilms.com for the first five films of the series directed by John Frankenheimer, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai, Guy Ritchie and Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu.

This fall, “The Hire” returns with three new short films executive-produced by Ridley Scott and directed by John Woo, Joe Carnahan and Tony Scott. The constant in each short film is star Clive Owen, the mysterious, unnamed driver-for-hire around whom all the films revolve. The film series can be seen online at http://www.bmwfilms.com/ .

BMW Group in America

BMW of North America has been present in the United States since 1975. Since then, the BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales and financial service organizations for the BMW and MINI brands; a South Carolina manufacturing operation; DESIGNWORKS/USA, an industrial design firm in California; a technology office in Silicon Valley; and various other operations throughout the country. The BMW Group is represented in the United States through networks of 340 BMW car, 327 BMW sports activity vehicle and 148 BMW motorcycle retailers and 56 MINI car dealers. BMW U.S. Holding Corp., the Group’s headquarters for North, Central and South America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.

Information about BMW Group products is available to consumers via the Internet at http://www.bmwusa.com/ , http://www.bmwmotorcycles.com/ and http://www.miniusa.com/ .

About Windows Media

Windows Media is the leading digital media platform, used by consumers, content providers, solution providers, software developers and corporations throughout the world. The new Windows Media 9 Series will power the next wave of digital media, delivering the best playback experience, unmatched audio and video quality, integrated optional digital rights management technology, and is the most comprehensive platform for developing digital media products and services. The Windows Media platform includes Windows Media Player; Windows Media Services, the powerful streaming server for distributing content; Windows Media Encoder for content creation; Windows Media Audio and Video for the best quality audio and video; Windows Media DRM for protecting content; and the Windows Media Software Development Kit for software developers. Windows Media Player, available in 26 languages, is the fastest-growing and now leading media player. More information about Windows Media can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia/ .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

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