Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

The scuttlebutt on Criterion, Eclipse, and Janus Films. Lists and polls are STRONGLY discouraged.
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starmanof51
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#26 Post by starmanof51 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:35 pm

Mungo wrote:
Did they themselves do restorations and release them as a nonprofit?
Nope that’s why I say marginal relevance. Interesting to me that a straight up video store can/would do it

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knives
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#27 Post by knives » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:24 am

domino harvey wrote:
StevenJ0001 wrote:
domino harvey wrote:So film restoration is non-profit certifiable in the states? I didn't know that! Any additional info people can share, I legit didn't think we had that kind of thing in place here
UCLA’s film archive and screening program is nonprofit, I imagine.
But they don't have a releasing arm, right? Those restorations have to be licensed by for-profit labels for release?
Their in house label, sort of, is called California Newsreel which releases a lot of educational films and African cinema. There's also, obviously, PBS though their work is much more limited.

mteller
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#28 Post by mteller » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:31 am

soundchaser wrote:At the risk of moving this thread to the infighting section, I’m going to apologize. In hindsight, my qualms with the original post could have been laid out more clearly (Murphy’s Law in action), and I could have taken a much more generous and open-minded tone.
What would cf.org be without its smug, knee-jerk pile-ons?

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Cinephrenic
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#29 Post by Cinephrenic » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:18 pm

Their 'current plan' includes streaming with a dedicated website. Have you started a dvd publishing company and failed? How is it that you some how know Criterion's financials?

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movielocke
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Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#30 Post by movielocke » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:19 pm

Well I assume VC is funding film struck, and when that money runs out, it may not be out of the realm of possibilities for criterion to transistion out of the profit business.

Realistically, they’ll probably transistion out of physical media entirely (other than 6-12 LD priced specialty releases per year) simply because streaming is a successful way to combat piracy—if someone owns a film somewhere in the world but isn’t using or releasing the film, thieves will just steal the movie and justify their criminal activity to themselves and others as noble and laudable—streaming puts all licensed media available simultaneously for revenue generation, and can combat some of the piracy simply by becoming the default for people that want to watch and will steal in order to watch (but would rather not steal).

Additionally, more significantly, soon, most consumers won’t have hardware to play physical media, so if a company doesn’t have a streaming strategy they’re dead long term.

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Ribs
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#31 Post by Ribs » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:52 pm

movielocke wrote:Well I assume VC is funding film struck
The Vietcong?

(Seriously have no idea what this could be abbreviating)

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DarkImbecile
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#32 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:53 pm

Venture capital

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swo17
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#33 Post by swo17 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:29 pm

What kind of a dividend do you guys think Criterion should issue its stockholders at the end of the fiscal quarter? And will this make it more or less likely that they'll reissue Bottle Rocket?

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Big Ben
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#34 Post by Big Ben » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:42 pm

I wouldn't want to become a non-profit in the current political climate. I've done my fair share of work with them and quite a few of them are terrified that they're going to lose out on donations because their wealthier patrons no longer feel a desire to donate to them due to Trump signing the new tax bill into law. If it sounds simultaneously dumb and awful it's because it is.

I would imagine if Criterion ever ran into any potential financial issues there would be more than one person willing to help bail them out.

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Luke M
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#35 Post by Luke M » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:45 pm

Is there any reason to believe Criterion is not doing well financially?

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swo17
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#36 Post by swo17 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:49 pm

I believe the reason cited was "having to release The Breakfast Club"

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movielocke
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#37 Post by movielocke » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:20 pm

swo17 wrote:I believe the reason cited was "having to release The Breakfast Club"
which is funny because “being allowed to release the breakfast club” is probably an indication they’re doing extremely well in units sold for catalog titles.

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domino harvey
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#38 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:34 pm

movielocke wrote:Well I assume VC is funding film struck, and when that money runs out, it may not be out of the realm of possibilities for criterion to transistion out of the profit business.

Realistically, they’ll probably transistion out of physical media entirely (other than 6-12 LD priced specialty releases per year) simply because streaming is a successful way to combat piracy—if someone owns a film somewhere in the world but isn’t using or releasing the film, thieves will just steal the movie and justify their criminal activity to themselves and others as noble and laudable—streaming puts all licensed media available simultaneously for revenue generation, and can combat some of the piracy simply by becoming the default for people that want to watch and will steal in order to watch (but would rather not steal).

Additionally, more significantly, soon, most consumers won’t have hardware to play physical media, so if a company doesn’t have a streaming strategy they’re dead long term.
Film Historian movielocke

AisleSeat
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#39 Post by AisleSeat » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:13 pm

movielocke wrote:Well I assume VC is funding film struck, and when that money runs out, it may not be out of the realm of possibilities for criterion to transistion out of the profit business.

Realistically, they’ll probably transistion out of physical media entirely (other than 6-12 LD priced specialty releases per year) simply because streaming is a successful way to combat piracy—if someone owns a film somewhere in the world but isn’t using or releasing the film, thieves will just steal the movie and justify their criminal activity to themselves and others as noble and laudable—streaming puts all licensed media available simultaneously for revenue generation, and can combat some of the piracy simply by becoming the default for people that want to watch and will steal in order to watch (but would rather not steal).

Additionally, more significantly, soon, most consumers won’t have hardware to play physical media, so if a company doesn’t have a streaming strategy they’re dead long term.
This somewhat coincides with my thinking. Indeed, it's not out of the realm of possibilities for Criterion to transition from a for-profit business model. Criterion is fortunate to have owners who truly about film and who are not obsessively watching the bottom line, demanding a return on their investment. A lot of the work the company performs—restorations, the supplements, etc.—is work most other companies forgo because it's expensive, and in many cases cannot be justified due to cost/profit ratios.

The Criterion brand is truly special. I hope the company is able to stay in business for many more years, if not decades. And yet with the growing proliferation of steaming and on-demand services, the need to produce an actual hard product—the DVD—is becoming less imperative. This may be very problematic for Criterion, as instead of a steady or growing revenue steam, this pool of revenue may be shrinking. If so, it may prove difficult for Criterion to maintain its current business model.

I tend to think the production of a physical media is important and should continue in many instances; there will always be a certain cohort of people who prefer to "own" a copy of a movie. If any entity can continue to remain viable producing physical media it will be Criterion. I hope so. At this time, the steaming service on FilmStruck appears to going well. I do wonder, however, if the actual owners of product—those that license out their films—will continue to need Criterion to get their product placed on steaming services.

Now a few comments about the reception I received upon posting this topic. I was a little taken back at the initial ridicule, but I've been around long enough to know that a good number of you have sharp elbows and enjoy using them. Moreover, the reaction was authentic. This indicated that some of you don't know who I am, which pleasantly surprised me. I imagine some members do know. Could I have put together a better topic post? Probably. And speaking of The Breakfast Club, it is a worthy movie for the Collection. I was just surprised Criterion was able to gain rights. It says volumes, however, that Universal determined, rightly or wrongly, that it was more financially feasible to license the film out than to produce another DVD product. Moreover, it informs that the DVD market isn't quite what is used to be.

AisleSeat
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#40 Post by AisleSeat » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:07 am

Cinephrenic wrote:Their 'current plan' includes streaming with a dedicated website. Have you started a dvd publishing company and failed? How is it that you some how know Criterion's financials?
I have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever concerning Criterion's financials. I was simply putting forth a hypothesis of a course of action if Criterion's current business model began to falter.
Luke M wrote:Is there any reason to believe Criterion is not doing well financially?
No.
Big Ben wrote:I would imagine if Criterion ever ran into any potential financial issues there would be more than one person willing to help bail them out.
Yes, I'd be more inclined than not to provide assistance if necessary.

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Yaanu
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#41 Post by Yaanu » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:12 am

Why not ask Mulvaney?

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movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#42 Post by movielocke » Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:15 am

AisleSeat wrote:
movielocke wrote:Well I assume VC is funding film struck, and when that money runs out, it may not be out of the realm of possibilities for criterion to transistion out of the profit business.

Realistically, they’ll probably transistion out of physical media entirely (other than 6-12 LD priced specialty releases per year) simply because streaming is a successful way to combat piracy—if someone owns a film somewhere in the world but isn’t using or releasing the film, thieves will just steal the movie and justify their criminal activity to themselves and others as noble and laudable—streaming puts all licensed media available simultaneously for revenue generation, and can combat some of the piracy simply by becoming the default for people that want to watch and will steal in order to watch (but would rather not steal).

Additionally, more significantly, soon, most consumers won’t have hardware to play physical media, so if a company doesn’t have a streaming strategy they’re dead long term.
This somewhat coincides with my thinking. Indeed, it's not out of the realm of possibilities for Criterion to transition from a for-profit business model. Criterion is fortunate to have owners who truly about film and who are not obsessively watching the bottom line, demanding a return on their investment. A lot of the work the company performs—restorations, the supplements, etc.—is work most other companies forgo because it's expensive, and in many cases cannot be justified due to cost/profit ratios.

The Criterion brand is truly special. I hope the company is able to stay in business for many more years, if not decades. And yet with the growing proliferation of steaming and on-demand services, the need to produce an actual hard product—the DVD—is becoming less imperative. This may be very problematic for Criterion, as instead of a steady or growing revenue steam, this pool of revenue may be shrinking. If so, it may prove difficult for Criterion to maintain its current business model.

I tend to think the production of a physical media is important and should continue in many instances; there will always be a certain cohort of people who prefer to "own" a copy of a movie. If any entity can continue to remain viable producing physical media it will be Criterion. I hope so. At this time, the steaming service on FilmStruck appears to going well. I do wonder, however, if the actual owners of product—those that license out their films—will continue to need Criterion to get their product placed on steaming services.

Now a few comments about the reception I received upon posting this topic. I was a little taken back at the initial ridicule, but I've been around long enough to know that a good number of you have sharp elbows and enjoy using them. Moreover, the reaction was authentic. This indicated that some of you don't know who I am, which pleasantly surprised me. I imagine some members do know. Could I have put together a better topic post? Probably. And speaking of The Breakfast Club, it is a worthy movie for the Collection. I was just surprised Criterion was able to gain rights. It says volumes, however, that Universal determined, rightly or wrongly, that it was more financially feasible to license the film out than to produce another DVD product. Moreover, it informs that the DVD market isn't quite what is used to be.
I think criterion has at minimum two more years at the current pace (75 ish releases a year 60 new, 15 upgrades) and maximum of five years with probable revenue growth but then entering a period of steady and inevitable annual revenue declines as the market contractions in physical media finally begin to affect them as well.

That will probably necessitate a pivot into a new pricing model, leaning into new ways to monetize streaming and fewer releases per annum while abandoning the DVD format releases.

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FrauBlucher
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#43 Post by FrauBlucher » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:20 am

AisleSeat wrote:Additionally, more significantly, soon, most consumers won’t have hardware to play physical media, so if a company doesn’t have a streaming strategy they’re dead long term.
Says who, they still make turn tables for crying out loud.

Not sure how non-profits work. But I've never seen items made by non-profits sold in brick and mortar stores. Do Amazon sell anything produced by non-profits and can they? Just a guess but I don't think they can. It sounds like Criterion going non-profit would take away avenues in which to sell their blurays and dvds.

I love how every couple of years this topic raises it's head with no real sign of the apocalypse.

AisleSeat
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#44 Post by AisleSeat » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:30 pm

FrauBlucher wrote: Not sure how non-profits work. But I've never seen items made by non-profits sold in brick and mortar stores. Do Amazon sell anything produced by non-profits and can they? Just a guess but I don't think they can. It sounds like Criterion going non-profit would take away avenues in which to sell their blurays and dvds.
Nonprofit organizations are very similar to typical companies. They both have boards that oversee an executive management. Nonprofits, rather than being owned by shareholders, are usually controlled by a membership structure (but not always). As such, nonprofits do not distribute excess proceeds (profit) back to investors (shareholders) like a company does.

Even though it is privately owned, Criterion operates much like a nonprofit today. Almost all excess proceeds, if any, are plowed back into the company, to pay for more acquisitions and to cover salaries. I'd be surprised if this was not the case. The company is run by people as a labor of love, rather than to simply derive a return on investment.

Like typical companies, nonprofits sell items the produce (books, etc.) on the open market. A good example is the university press system in the United States. Most large universities operate a press to publish books that normal book publishers would not take on. There are run on a nonprofit basis. Some of these publishing operations are substantial, putting out a hundred or more titles per year. Like a for-profit company, they have budgets, and when times are lean, when the projected revenues fall short, there are cutbacks. A typical example of a university press is The University Press of Kentucky. It's moderate in size, not among the largest, but still a decent operation. Plug in The University Press of Kentucky in the publisher box of Amazon's Advanced Search for Books, and it brings up 3,065 results.

Criterion might do very well as a nonprofit. The work they do—restorations and educational supplements (and, yes, the supplements are largely educational in nature)—is tailor made for nonprofit status. There are bound to foundations that will value the work Criterion does and will be supportive. Under a nonprofit status, Criterion might even be able to bring out more titles than they do now—all they need is a little financial support to do so. For example, Criterion might be interested in ramping up its Eclipse line to eight sets a years. If a foundation was interested in funding that for, say, three years, it would be a go. As it is now, the Eclipse line is faltering because revenues are not quite covering production and marketing costs. If the revenues were there, we'd have more Eclipse sets, but we don't.

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soundchaser
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#45 Post by soundchaser » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:47 pm

AisleSeat wrote:For example, Criterion might be interested in ramping up its Eclipse line to eight sets a years. If a foundation was interested in funding that for, say, three years, it would be a go. As it is now, the Eclipse line is faltering because revenues are not quite covering production and marketing costs. If the revenues were there, we'd have more Eclipse sets, but we don't.
That’s a pretty bold claim to leave unsourced. I don’t think Criterion’s given any indication that they’re stopping the Eclipse line because of revenue. If anything, I assume they’ve slowed since Michael Koresky is no longer with the company. But there’s a new one coming out in a few weeks, so I don’t think we can say the line is dead.

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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#46 Post by AisleSeat » Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:53 pm

soundchaser wrote:
AisleSeat wrote:For example, Criterion might be interested in ramping up its Eclipse line to eight sets a years. If a foundation was interested in funding that for, say, three years, it would be a go. As it is now, the Eclipse line is faltering because revenues are not quite covering production and marketing costs. If the revenues were there, we'd have more Eclipse sets, but we don't.
That’s a pretty bold claim to leave unsourced. I don’t think Criterion’s given any indication that they’re stopping the Eclipse line because of revenue. If anything, I assume they’ve slowed since Michael Koresky is no longer with the company. But there’s a new one coming out in a few weeks, so I don’t think we can say the line is dead.
Well, what other reason can there be for the dearth of Eclipse releases? I'm glad the line continues on, but we've only had two box sets—and soon to be three—since the release of Ozu's crime dramas April 21, 2015. This seems to me budget related (and let me emphasize I have no inside information nor any information at all concerning Criterion financials). If the Eclipse sets were generating enough revenue to cover costs, in all likelihood Criterion would be pumping out several per year. That's hasn't been the case, and I tend to believe the root cause is the weakening DVD market.

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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#47 Post by AisleSeat » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:23 pm

movielocke wrote:Well I assume VC is funding film struck ...
I tend to think not. In the About Us section on FilmStruck's website it says: "FilmStruck was created by the movie lovers at Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and The Criterion Collection, giving you access to some of the world’s greatest films, shown uncut and commercial-free, just as the director intended."

Rather than venture capital, it's more likely the initial funding came from the Turner Broadcasting System, which itself is owned by Time-Warner. It's also possible it's Time-Warner money that got FilmStruck up and running. It's interesting Criterion is listed as a founder. Whether they put up any initial funding is unknown. If Criterion does own a piece of FilmStruck, however small, it's a major feather in their cap as they move forward into the on-demand realm.

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movielocke
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#48 Post by movielocke » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:35 pm

AisleSeat wrote:
soundchaser wrote:
AisleSeat wrote:For example, Criterion might be interested in ramping up its Eclipse line to eight sets a years. If a foundation was interested in funding that for, say, three years, it would be a go. As it is now, the Eclipse line is faltering because revenues are not quite covering production and marketing costs. If the revenues were there, we'd have more Eclipse sets, but we don't.
That’s a pretty bold claim to leave unsourced. I don’t think Criterion’s given any indication that they’re stopping the Eclipse line because of revenue. If anything, I assume they’ve slowed since Michael Koresky is no longer with the company. But there’s a new one coming out in a few weeks, so I don’t think we can say the line is dead.
Well, what other reason can there be for the dearth of Eclipse releases? I'm glad the line continues on, but we've only had two box sets—and soon to be three—since the release of Ozu's crime dramas April 21, 2015. This seems to me budget related (and let me emphasize I have no inside information nor any information at all concerning Criterion financials). If the Eclipse sets were generating enough revenue to cover costs, in all likelihood Criterion would be pumping out several per year. That's hasn't been the case, and I tend to believe the root cause is the weakening DVD market.
allocation of labor hours is the principle cause behind eclipse falling off. michael koresky and Jason Altman were producing the series, but koresky was also writing all the copy for the full collection (which increased production from 50 to 60 new releases a year during the time of the eclipse decline) and Altman worked on the numerous large projects over the last five years, taking time away from eclipse. Additionally for Altman, there were several titles pseudo confirmed as “coming to eclipse” like Pierre Etaix and Les blank (among others) that were bumped up to main line releases. And they’ve gotten access to the major studios over the same time frame and have been trying to exploit that resource while it is available, since it may not always be.

The scarce resource in question is time—labor hours—and criterion isn’t hiring, so there are only so many labor hours a company or producer can allocate, and eclipse just hasn’t been competitive given the other options for what one wants to work on.

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movielocke
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#49 Post by movielocke » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:39 pm

AisleSeat wrote:
movielocke wrote:Well I assume VC is funding film struck ...
I tend to think not. In the About Us section on FilmStruck's website it says: "FilmStruck was created by the movie lovers at Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and The Criterion Collection, giving you access to some of the world’s greatest films, shown uncut and commercial-free, just as the director intended."

Rather than venture capital, it's more likely the initial funding came from the Turner Broadcasting System, which itself is owned by Time-Warner. It's also possible it's Time-Warner money that got FilmStruck up and running. It's interesting Criterion is listed as a founder. Whether they put up any initial funding is unknown. If Criterion does own a piece of FilmStruck, however small, it's a major feather in their cap as they move forward into the on-demand realm.
That’s funny, I think that copy indicates VC is funding, with criterion and tcm as the “talent” meant to draw in viewers. Warner’s already has WA streaming, and there’s not much corporate synergy in play with WB title Availability on FilmStruck.

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domino harvey
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Re: Should Criterion become a nonprofit?

#50 Post by domino harvey » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:43 pm

The scarce resource in question is time—labor hours—and criterion isn’t hiring
What are you basing this on?

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