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A small Utah startup has landed the role of its young life. It's part of the marketing effort for the new movie "Dark Shadows" that is being released in theaters nationwide Friday.
Kin2's website (Kin2.me) is still in beta and the Pleasant Grove company that provides users with family connections between celebrities and historic figures and eventually between almost any two people is planning a launch sometime this year after it works out the bugs.
But an executive of Warner Brothers, the movie's producer, saw a Kin2 demonstration at the recent South-by-Southwest Festival in Austin and had an idea. He thought it could be used in marketing the film by showing fans the family connections between the various characters who are members of the Collins family.
"It was definitely a different use of the site's functionality than we anticipated," Kin2 President Colin House said in a statement.
Kin2 grew out of OneGreatFamily.com, a 12-year-old Pleasant Grove company that has gathered millions of names and dates for its genealogy service. The latter allows users to submit information on ancestors and then matches them with others to create extensive family trees.
The company wanted to find new ways to use its huge database of 250 million names, said Tim Robinson, chief marketing officer.
"So the basic idea for Kin2 was let's take that core asset, all of these names, and let's get them together in a way that consumers can get a shot at them, and consumers can go in and leverage the power of what we've already built," he said.
"Dark Shadows" fans will find a link on the movie's home webpage (click the arrow at the top right) to the "Collins Family Tree."
Clicking that link takes you to the Kin2 page for "Dark Shadows." You can then grab images of the various characters and put them into a chart that will then display the family connections.
Turns out, for example, that Barnabus Collins (played by Johnny Depp) is the great-great-great uncle of Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer). But then you can go to the Kin2 main page and find how Depp and Pfeiffer also share a connection. They are 32 degrees apart, each degree representing a common family member.
"Johnny Depp the actor is actually related to Michelle Pfeiffer the actress, the real person," said Robinson.
The film depicts Barnabas Collins as a Victorian, 18th century playboy cursed by a spurned lover who turns him into a vampire. Collins escapes from his tomb in the 1970s to find his descendants living in Collinwood Manor, and the movie is about their curious time together.
When Kin2 fully launches sometime this year, the company hopes to attract users who will want to see how they might be related to celebrities or historic figures. They probably will be able to do so for free but if users want to print a PDF document showing the relationships, they might have to pay a small fee.
The company plans to use its "Dark Shadows" exposure to put together other specialty websites. For example, said Robinson, one site could allow New York Yankees fans to see how they might be related to the players.
"Dark Shadows" online