I’ve become fascinated by the war going on between movie studios like Universal and Fox, Redbox and Netflix. The DVD is such an important part of the studio finance equation that these companies are jumping through all sorts of hoops to control how discs are disseminated to the public. Fortunately for us, those hoops are on fire, and the result is a little digital media circus played out before our very eyes.
One of the most entertaining stories of late is that Redbox has circumvented studio litigation by sending employees out to buy large quantities of DVD at retail. Fox and Universal won’t currently sell discs to the company, but Wal Mart will sell DVDs to anyone, including Redbox employees. But now Wal Mart and Target will only sell five discs to any one person during a specified window. And they’re going to enforce this…how? Read More »
Posted on Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 by David Chen
Whenever a celebrity dies, particularly in the entertainment industry, the way to handle their final works (as well as works that reference or relate to them) is often a tricky one. With Brittany Murphy’s recent death, we’ve already seen this principle in action: Several weeks ago, Saturday Night Live aired a Weekend Update sketch lampooning Murphy’s public persona, portraying her as loopy and completely out of it. Upon her death, NBC quietly removed the clip from Hulu, although it is still available online.
We’ve also recently learned that movie rental company Redbox has pulled the art for Murphy’s 2009 film, Deadline, which features a chilling image of the actress lifeless in a bathtub.
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A new study has been published by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp that claims the one-dollar DVD rentals from Redbox kiosks have cost Hollywood one billion dollars, and that the economic fallout could get a lot worse as home video revenue losses spur job cuts and wipe out up to $400m in wages. I think it’s time for studios to give Tommy Wiseau his first real big Hollywood gig — he could do ads parodying his famous cries from The Room, in protest of the DVD rental kiosks. “You are tearing me apart, Redbox!” Read More »
Posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 by David Chen
There’s one thing that this summer has proven: People still love going to the movies. Movie grosses are actually up this year from last year, to $4.25 billion from $4.2 billion last year. And while studio executives are probably pleased with this development, one thing that hasn’t been as encouraging is the DVD market. While DVDs used to account for a huge percentage of a film’s revenue, that percentage already plateaued and is being supplanted by a number of other competing forces. The format itself is under attack, as Video-on-Demand and DVRs continue to take hold in American households.
One of the signs of the times has been the struggle of brick-and-mortar stores to stay competitive. With Netflix and Redbox offering consumers a cheap and easy way to get movies, it’s difficult for companies who are paying massive overhead renting physical space to continue to operate profitably. Last week we reported on how Blockbuster might be closing 960 of its stores, which comprise 20% of its 4,400 outlets. Anecdotally, I’ve seen three separate Hollywood Videos close in my area, which was actually kind of sad, as I used to enjoy browsing through the endless aisles of DVDs/Blu-Rays and chatting with the occasionally knowledgeable staff member. While video rental stores may never entirely go away, we are certainly witnessing an industry in the midst of a sea change, and in 5-10 years, the video rental store landscape will probably look completely different than it does today. Would you be sad if video rental stores vanished?
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Posted on Tuesday, September 1st, 2009 by David Chen
In this week’s /Filmcast, Dave Chen, Devindra Hardawar and Adam Quigley reflect on Disney’s absorption of Marvel Entertainment, wonder if Terminator Salvation could be improved with some R-rated action, get excited about some action movie sequels, and assess the state of the Redbox legal battle. Special guest Anne Thompson from Indiewire joins us for this episode.
You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Join us next Monday at 9 PM EST / 6 PM PST at Slashfilm’s live page as we review Gamer.
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