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Disney Fought the Redbox over John Carter, and the Redbox Won

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After the unfairly dismal box office performance of the surprisingly enjoyable John Carter, it’s understandable that Disney would do its best to make every buck off of the home video release of the film. One way of doing that? Giving the DVD and Blu-ray at least 28 days on the market before appearing on rental services like Redbox and Netflix.

That was the plan with John Carter, anyway. You Netflix subscribers may have noticed that the film is already shipping, and Redbox will have it in its little red boxes starting tomorrow, just a week after the disc hit streets?

How did Redbox and Netflix get their hands on a film the studio wouldn’t sell them? The same way you would: Amazon or Walmart or Target. Yes, that ends up costing Redbox and Netflix a lot more money (generally twice as much for a Blu-ray or DVD, as compared to buying it directly from the studio at wholesale), but in the end, it’s a worthy expense for rental services that really don’t have the time (or the avenue) to explain to eager renters why they’re not offering the latest blockbusters. Is Jane or Joe Sixpack likely to check Redbox for a new movie, find it AWOL, and assume that studio politics are at play? Hardly. They’re simply going to be disappointed, and that disappointment is going to be aimed at the rental service.

So I guess this situation–rental services paying full retail for discs the studios are trying to withhold–is sort of  a quasi win-win-win for everyone: with John Carter, Disney gets a little more money for each of those discs, Redbox has the discs to rent, and customers get to rent them. But don’t think this is the end of the story. This is a continuing drama, and no doubt we’ll see studios–well, Disney, at least–try new tactics to hold onto that big up-front revenue from home video sales.

Check out the source story for more analysis.

Via: [L.A. Times: Disney feuds with Redbox and Netflix over 'John Carter' DVD]

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4 Comments

  1. Interesting. I thought that it was illegal to rent movies that were marked for home distribution. Isn’t that what the copyright warnings say?

    Benjamin Durham
  2. It may be what the copyright warning say, but the law is on the side of the renters in this case. The First-sale doctrine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Sale_Doctrine) allows purchasers of DVDs and Blu-rays to rent or lend them. There was even a court case a few years back involving the Weinstein Company that reinforced the right. If Disney is going to do anything about this, they’re either going to have to lobby for changes to the law, or (more likely) they’re going to have to apply market pressures of some form or another.

    Dennis Burger
  3. Now the question, does anyone want to pay $1 to watch John Carter?

    Brian Allen
  4. Awww! I thought it was actually pretty enjoyable!

    Dennis Burger