Starbucks Entertainment hasstruck deal with Lionsgate under which the coffee giant will participate in themarketing and distribution of Lionsgate and 2929 Entertainment's upcoming dramaAkeelah And The Bee.

Leveraging its retail baseacross North America, Starbucks will screen the picture to Starbucks servers(aka "baristas") to create word of mouth and run a series of in-storepromotions including tickets to sneak previews of the film as well as musictie-ins on radio stations.

"We are always looking forinnovative ways to surprise and delight our customers, which is why we are sopleased to be working with Lionsgate on Akeelah And The Bee as the first film to introduce to our customers,"Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz said.

"As the entertainmentindustry enters the digital marketplace, we are all looking at a new paradigm -new alliances and distribution channels that transcend traditional filmedentertainment marketing," said Lionsgate president Steve Beeks, whoorchestrated the deal for Lionsgate with Lionsgate president of acquisitionsand co-productions Peter Block and Lionsgate executive vice president ofcorporate operations and general counsel Wayne Levin.

"With Starbucks'unprecedented promotional campaign, we are reaching millions of customers andpotential moviegoers for Akeelah, many of whom would not be targeted by moretraditional media and print campaigns."

Akeelah And The Bee stars Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett and newcomerKeke Palmer in the story of an 11-year-old girl from South Central Los Angeleswho makes it to the National Spelling Bee.

Doug Atchison directed andSid Ganis, Nancy Ganis, Michael Romersa, Daniel Llewelyn and Laurence Fishburneproduced.

2929's Todd Wagner, MarkCuban, Marc Butan, Helen Sugland and Lionsgate's Michael Burns, MichaelPaseornek and Tom Ortenberg served as executive producers.