Last February, FairWinds published a study that explored what domain names movie production companies use to host the official websites of the movies they make. What we discovered was a surprising lack of consistency throughout the movie industry – where some movies use just the title in .COM, others append the word “movie” or “film” or the phrase “the movie” or “the film.” Some use hyphens, and some register domains that are completely unrelated to the movie title. For example, this year’s movie Crazy Stupid Love advertised the domain name CrazyStupidLove.com, whereas Horrible Bosses advertised HorribleBossesMovie.com, and the live-action remake of The Smurfs advertised the domain SmurfHappens.com. This lack of consistency means moviegoers have no real standard to rely on to directly navigate to official movie websites. New gTLDs, however, could change that.
In the study, we acknowledged the fact that the variation in movie domain names often results from scarcity in the .COM gTLD. Columbia Pictures, the production company that made The Smurfs, for instance, could not use TheSmurfs.com, Smurfs.com or Smurf.com, because all are owned by the Belgian publishing company that licenses the “Smurf” characters and merchandise.
That scarcity could be relieved by the creation of a new .MOVIE or .FILM gTLD (or both). Not only would Columbia Pictures be able to use the domain TheSmurfs.Movie to promote The Smurfs, but Internet users would be able to clearly recognize it as the domain of the official movie website and remember it easily. Additionally, independent and art house films might opt to register and advertise domains in .FILM for an increased level of prestige.
Of course, in order to maintain credibility as an industry-sanctioned safe zone for film sites online, .MOVIE and .FILM would need to be properly administrated and restricted. One way to achieve this is for the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) to work with studios based in the U.S. and with similar organizations worldwide, and to agree to use .MOVIE to host official movie sites. The groups could even file as a community-based application. If the gTLD were operated as openly as .COM currently is, then a similar scarcity issue would eventually emerge, as a result of speculators registering domains they believe will one day be movie titles.
We’ve discussed the concept of category-defining and aspirational gTLDs on this blog, but industry-defining gTLDs are also something that brand owners should consider when rethinking their new gTLD strategies.