The ailing chain is touting today’s availability of “The Blind Side” at Blockbuster stores, by mail or on demand. Netflix and Redbox, which recently agreed to a 28-day rental window in exchange for improved terms, does not yet have access to the movie, which notched an Oscar win for Sandra Bullock earlier this month.
The question: How much will this new window help the chain, and rental stores in general, compete against popular Netflix and Redbox? Blockbuster is making a big deal out of the fact that it’s the only “multi-channel provider” with access to big movies on street date. But is it really that great a selling point with consumers?
Studios would prefer consumers buy their movies on disc or via download. Barring that, they would prefer consumer rent movies on demand or at a Blockbuster; the economics are better that way. (Netflix operates on a subscription-based model; Redbox’s bargain pricing is considered a threat to sales, VOD and revenue-sharing rental chains like Blockbuster.)
As for digital: The release carefully notes that existing deals remain in place. The updated deal only applies to DVD and Blu-ray.
So no, bloggers, the studios aren’t really giving Blockbuster scandalously preferential treatment. They’re just agreeing to continue supplying the ailing chain with discs at a time its future looks shaky.
UPDATE: LATimes reports that the new revenue-sharing arrangement improved terms for both parties.
Blockbuster release (via paidContent)
“Hi Paula. It’s Joey.”
Only then did I realize that the flamboyantly-dressed gent across the room was Joe Pantoliano aka Joey Pants aka Ralphie Cifaretto from “The Sopranos.” Thesp commandeered the microphone at Variety’s Future of Film Summit to quiz keynote speaker Paula Wagner, she the former partner with Tom Cruise and head of UA. Why, Joey wanted to know, were studios asking him to take 80% to 90% pay cuts without offering him a piece of the action? Specifically, why did Warner Bros. ask him, a working class actor, to take an 85% cut? After all, he said, Fox gave him a piece of “Daredevil.”
Wagner, a one-time actress who made her bones as an agent and now toils as an indie producer, had no easy answer for Joey Pants. Later in the day, however, QED founder Bill Block, another former agent, stressed the need to give talent a “a fair shake with a real transparent back end,” adding, “We need to find our way to a better model that rewards today’s box office performance.”
Throughout the day, panelists stressed the need for filmmakers to trim costs in line with the realities of today’s movie economics. But studio execs, Pantoliano pointed out, have not been willing to do the same. Hence, the hard feelings.
“At what point do we not need studios anymore and when do they start taking that cut?” he implored.
Again, no easy answer.
Blame it on my head cold if you like, but last night I misread news about YouTube’s deal with Warners to include full-length episodes of “Gossip Girl,” and was simultaneously impressed and pleased. Impressed because the CW has been so stingy with online streaming of “GG” and pleased because, well, I’m ridiculously fond of the show. Heck, maybe I just wanted it to be so.
Further reading today dashed those hopes, alas. But what really got me was YouTube’s insistence that it’s just fine with clips of Warner TV shows or news programs for now. Jordan Hoffner, YouTube’s affable dealmaker, told the NYT that the vid-sharing site is very happy the conglom is starting small, er, short, noting that is, after all, YouTube’s core business. “The important thing is to get them on the platform,” he said.
However, it’s not clear to me how useful those clips tend to be. Sure, they work as promotional devices — and they don’t cannibalize TV on DVD sales or iTunes downloads. This is why studios willing give the Google-owned site access to them. But the site has been beefing up longform video to entice advertisers, who tend to prefer Hulu.
Photo: the CW
Redbox made it three for three yesterday, filing suit against Warners as expected. The suit, which comes on the heels of a legal victory for the kiosk company in its antitrust battle against Universal, is similar to the ones filed against that studio and Fox, Video Business reports.
All three have taken a hard line stance against Redbox, in contrast to Sony and Lionsgate, who did deals with the company. Disney and Paramount also sell their product to the Coinstar-operated company, which has exploded in popularity the past year.
Turns out we were right to read into Jeff Bewkes’ Redbox comments late last month: Today Warners said it would begin selling kiosk companies directly in October, but only 28 days after each movie’s DVD release.
Netflix will be offered movies upon general release or with a 28-day window, depending on the terms rental-by-mail subscription companies choose, Video Business reports. It’s not clear how these terms will differ from current Netflix terms. The sub company buys discs from at least some studios under revenue-sharing terms.
During Time Warner’s earnings call late last month, Bewkes signaled a change was in the wind, suggesting that dollar rentals probably should not be available the same time as higher-priced rentals at traditional video stores.
So, to update the scorecard: Three studios are withholding movies from Redbox during the prime rental window, and three are working with the kiosk company in some fashion. Sony and Lionsgate have recently inked guaranteed distribution deals with Redbox, while Disney has indicated it is selling kiosk companies discs through a third party. The proviso under all these deals is that kiosk companies not sell used discs.
Universal is trying to impose a 45 day window, Fox 30 days and Warner 28. Paramount is supposedly negotiating with Redbox; they might be the next studio to choose sides.
Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes endorsed studio withholding tactics in its earnings call, VB reports, even though the chain is rolling out kiosks of its own. Still not clear: The status of Paramount’s Redbox negotiations.
Not nearly as pleased: Chuck Berger, head of kiosk company DVDPlay, who told Home Media mag that studios are standing in the way of a “tsunami of technology.”
Deadline Hollywood Daily has posted the press release here.