The studios hate you, cheap bastards!



It goes without saying that consumers are in love with Redbox, the Coinstar-owned company who in just a few short years has built up a formidable rental kiosk business against the likes of mail-order favorite Netflix. I mean, DVD rentals for a buck a night? What’s not to like? (Unless you like indie fare like Tempe… Redbox is for the big boys only.)

Somebody explain that to the bigwigs in Hollywood. First they succeeded in mostly squashing the 99¢ iTunes new release (that’ll be $1.29 now, thankyouverymuch), and now they’re trying to put the squeeze on the $1 DVD rental.

Universal Studios was the first of the majors to raise a stink, telling its wholesalers not to sell to Redbox until 30 days after everyone else has gotten its product. After getting product for its kiosks in less above-board ways in order to have it available on street date (including buying them straight off the shelves of Wal-Mart and other cheap outlets!), Redbox sued Universal in an effort to keep the good times rolling.

This week, they did the same with 20th Century Fox, who also announced they were neutering Redbox until 30 days after street date. And now Warner Bros. is joining the party, announcing a new initiative to sell directly to kiosk vendors but only allowing them to have new releases — wait for it — 28 days after street.

What the studios are really doing is punishing Redbox for having a successful business model. People are using those big red kiosks in this crappy economy, and why not? $1 per night is right out of the grand old ’80s, when mom ‘n pop video stores were plentiful. It’s an idea that worked 25-30 years ago, so why shouldn’t it work now?

Well, for one thing, $1 doesn’t go as far as it used to… if everyone is paying $1 to rent one of Hollywood’s finest instead of rushing to Best Buy or Wal-Mart to actually buy the DVD, you can start to see where the problem is (movies cost more now). But what the major studios fail to realize is that the DVD gold rush of the late ’90s and early ’00s is over. People aren’t collecting like they used to, especially since the majority of most-wanted movies have already come to DVD long ago (and likely in several different editions… I’m looking at you, Anchor Bay!).

I know I’m guilty of such depressed economics… I used to buy 10-15 discs a week back in 1998, and it was an exciting time to be a movie collector. Hell, I’d buy stuff I hadn’t seen before, just because it was so much fun! But I haven’t spent like that in a long time, mostly because my collection has grown to an unwieldy size, but also because I’ve grown older and I choose to spend my money elsewhere. (Especially true now that there’s a baby in the house!)

And let’s not forget, Hollywood has been on a real bum ride lately. The movies they’re releasing are, by and large, flat-out bad. And consumers know it, no matter how much the big boys are spending to market ’em like it ain’t so. We’ll spend $1 to take a chance on something like STRANGE WILDERNESS, a movie so bad it took me several sittings before I finished it all (the wife made me turn it off after the first half, and about killed me for making her watch that much to begin with). Or BALLS OUT: GARY THE TENNIS COACH, which I still haven’t finished watching.

Thankfully, with a grandfathered Netflix subscription that nets me 4 movies at a time for only $18.99 per month and with the help of a great website called Inside Redbox for some free promo codes (I have yet to give Redbox even $1, cheap bastard that I am), I have access to way more movies than I’d ever want to watch. Unfortunately, so many of them are bad, I’ve started not to care.

Now that Hollywood is going to punish Redbox for its success by withholding their crappy movies until a month after street date, I’ll probably be watching even less of them. So, thank you, Hollywood! Way to make me even less interested in your crap. Meanwhile, I fear that the $1 rental will soon go the way of the 99¢ iTunes download, if the studios have their way.

Thankfully, the fall TV season is coming, and that will keep me busy with stuff that I actually give a damn about…



This entry was posted on Friday, August 14th, 2009 at 4:14 pm and is filed under Movies, Random Thoughts, Seen & Heard, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.