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Redbox Wars, Stone Rewrites History, Happy Feet 2, The Week Scores

Redbox Wars, Stone Rewrites History, Happy Feet 2, The Week Scores

Thompson on Hollywood

The Redbox Wars are fascinating, as Patrick Goldstein reveals in the LAT. He calls the studios fighting Redbox the “Napster Nightmare for the movie business.” A U.S. district judge ruled against Redbox Monday,reports Paid Content:

DVD rental biz Redbox took a big hit in its efforts to sue several Universal Studios units over a policy withholding new releases from vending machines for 45 days. After a months-long delay, U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler dismissed two counts in the suit late Monday, in a 13-page ruling laden with campy movie references. (With the “Mercury Rising” in the relationship between Redbox and Universal, Redbox employees turned to a “Cloak and Dagger” exercise, visiting Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) and Best Buy stores in an attempt to purchase multiple copies of Universal DVDs.) But Kugler left a door open, as well, by refusing to dismiss the antitrust claim against Universal.

UPDATE: Redbox is suing Warners.

In happy news, Robin Williams confirms that he’ll voice the same two roles in the sequel to George Miller’s animated musical about a tap-dancing penguin, Happy Feet, which starts shooting in Australia at the start of the year.

Thompson on Hollywood

Magazines aren’t dead yet, reports Newsweek, which lists 12 titles selling more ads than last year: Fitness, Cooking With Paula Deen, The Week, OK!, Family Circle, Scholastic Parent & Child, Organic Gardening, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Country Weekly, and Muscle & Fitness. Well, it helps to be a niche publication: know your readers and serve them well. I am not surprised by the success of The Week . It’s one of the few magazines my 19-year-old subscribes to for its cannily aggregated content from all over the world, from international news to film criticism. Mediaite talks to president Steve Kotok:

“We start with exactly what we think a busy person has time for, and we just don’t vary that. If we don’t sell any ads, or if we sell 20 ad pages, doesn’t matter: We still give the reader 34 edit pages. In fact, we limit the number of ad pages so they don’t get too intrusive. We give the reader the package that we think is appropriate.”

I’m not the only one who loves the Miles Davis classic Kinda Blue. Slate’s Fred Kaplan digs into why it’s so great, while Kim Gittleson culls the movies that used the Kinda Blue score, from In the Line of Fire to Runaway Bride.

The U.S. Labor Department has sent an Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigator to Orlando, Florida to investigate a series of deaths at Disney World, reports the Wall Street Journal:

“OSHA has launched five inspections of parts of Disney World in 2009, three because of the fatalities and two in response to complaints.”

While he preps Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, reprising Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, Oliver Stone is going back to another favorite obsession: alternative U.S. History. He’s shooting 10 ten-hour TV shows for Showtime, called Oliver Stone’s Secret American History:

“Through this epic 10-hour series, which I feel is the deepest contribution I could ever make in film to my children and the next generation, I can only hope a change in our thinking will result.”

The trades went ahead and broke the review embargo on Shane Acker’s Nine, because it opened and was reviewed in France. It’s a small, small world.

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J. Sperling Reich

A little background on what jl is referring to by pricing videos at a premium. During the days of VHS, studios would price titles which they did not think would sell in high volume at a high price such as $99. This was referred to in the industry as pricing for “rental”. The business model was meant to charge video rental retailers such as Blockbuster a premium for the thousands of copies they would purchase upon a title’s initial release so that they would have enough copies for their clientele.

For titles that a studio thought could sell in the millions (mostly animated films) the studio would price them for consumers at between $15 and $30. This pricing model was referred to as “sell-through”. Sometimes, months after the initial release of a title when the rental market cooled, the studio would re-price movie at “sell-through”, though not always. I still remember being upset that Miller’s Crossing was priced for rental and never dropped until it was in the “previously viewed” bin.

When the DVD format became predominant and consumers became enormous film collectors, the industry reverted to pricing everything for sell-through and began taking a cut of the video retailers rental profits. This is one of the reasons the studios are so angry at Redbox, because rather than getting a percentage of a $5.00 movie rental, they would get a percentage of a $1.00 rental and soon the market (i.e. Blockbuster and Hollywood Video) would follow lowering the margins for home video product.

This type of tiered pricing is one solution that a lot of journalists have been putting forth when talking about Redbox and their fight with the studios.

-J. Sperling Reich


While I think it’s a foolish move by the studios to embargo titles to Redbox, why not bring back the old model of charging more for reuse of titles? Didn’t they do this with VHS/Beta (for those of us that remember) copies to bricks-n-mortar outlets? I remember the local rental store getting charged a premium for the right of rental. Seems like this might be a compromise for Redbox and the studios?

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