Coaxing people into going to a movie theater could prove more challenging than selling them a CD at the store counter. And though every Hollywood studio would like its movie backed by Starbucks, most have blanched at the hard bargain the company drives.
For "Akeelah," Starbucks is a producer on the film, although it did not put any money into the production. Starbucks will sell the film on DVD and receive a share of the film's profit.
Denson plans to relocate this summer from Seattle to Los Angeles with the Starbucks entertainment division, returning to Hollywood with considerably more clout than when she left.
Her stint at Starbucks central in Seattle has made her so enamored of her employer that friends tease her about having substituted "drinking the Kool-Aid" for the coffee.
Near her cubicle, employees chat on purple velvet lounge chairs and participate in "coffee tastings" every week. The butternut-squash-colored walls and soft pine floors mask the reality of being in the nerve center of a multibillion-dollar global corporation.
Though Denson prefers chai tea lattes, her staff drinks French-press coffee during meetings. She proudly shows off a black "coffee master" apron hanging on her desk and will eagerly discuss the difference in taste between arabica beans from Guatemala and those from Kenya.
"I am as excited about the next Frappuccino flavor as I am about my next project," Denson said. "It's a unique culture."
Denson is optimistic that the Starbucks culture she has so fully embraced will translate into film dollars.
"We have begun to be tastemakers," she said. "We have earned our customers' trust with the music and we are looking to earning their trust again with film.... We are looking to becoming an entertainment destination."