Home Video

Redbox kiosks have their good points and their bad points. On the one hand, you can’t beat renting newish home video releases for just a buck a night. That price beats any of the brick and mortar video stores and any of the VOD services that are baked into people’s home electronics. But, on the other hand, I kind of see them as the multiplex of the home video industry. By putting brick and mortar video stores out of business while offering a much more limited selection, they’re just reinforcing the idea in the moviegoing public’s mind that there are only two or three huge movies out that are worth paying attention to at any given time, indie and art films be damned. Still, you can’t beat that price, so Redbox’s parent company Coinstar has seen profits grow and their stock prices soar over the past couple of years. And now that things have gone so well, Coinstar is looking to capitalize on that success by making moves to take over the entire home video landscape. Dueling reports on Redbox activity have hit the financial world today, and both could have big impacts on the future of how we watch movies at home.

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It’s been my opinion for a while now that all-you-can-eat subscription services like Netflix are going to be a temporary thing with a limited window of success. Back when movie streaming was a minor thing aimed at a niche, tech savvy audience, it probably made sense for studios to sign deals with Netflix giving them access to their film libraries. Even five years ago high speed Internet wasn’t so ubiquitous, and if you wanted to stream something over the Internet, that pretty much meant you were streaming it to your computer monitor. But in today’s world of omnipresent wifi and apps that allow everyone to stream movies to smart TVs, video game consoles, app-enabled Blu-ray players, smart phones, and tablet computers, the entire game has changed. Now people can stream movies wherever they are, whenever they want. And they do… a lot. I think we’ve all seen that statistic floating around that 1/3 of all Internet traffic in the evenings comes from people streaming movies through Netflix. While I’m not in any position to prove that such a statistic is true, let’s just assume that it’s mostly true; that accounts for a huge amount of movie watching that ten years ago was being done through the more profitable to studios vehicle of DVD purchases and rentals.

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Coming off a year where box office sales showed some of the most disappointing weekends in quite a few years, and where the DVD buying bubble has now clearly burst, you could say that it’s starting to look like the film industry is in some financial trouble. They’ve tried to find new revenue in the form of 3D films, but as the months have worn on ticket sales to 3D showings have been bringing in less and less extra cash, and sales of 3D enabled home equipment pretty much never got out of the gate with any momentum. Factor in the rise of cheap rentals through Redbox kiosks and all-you-can-eat streaming services like Netflix, and the film industry as a whole is faced with the daunting task of how to keep their content seen as being a commodity. All hope doesn’t seem to be lost for makers of motion pictures, however, THR talked to a number a studio heads about what’s been working for them over the last year and where they expect to see growth in 2012, and there seems to be some hope. Over and over again the two areas where movies seem to be making more money than they did in year’s past is through video on demand services and sales of Blu-ray discs. Dennis Maguire, the president of worldwide home media distribution for Paramount said, “2011 showed that home entertainment continues to excite and enthrall consumers. Blu-ray and EST continued to surge, and new delivery systems […]

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Kevin Smith made a splash at the most recent Sundance Film Festival by holding a mock auction for his horror film Red State, buying the distribution rights himself, and then taking the movie on a tour around the country. The whole thing was some sort of statement about the inflated budgets films have to accrue in order to get distribution and advertising, and an experiment as to whether or not a filmmaker could turn a profit by just distributing a movie themselves. Smith took his reel of the film from theater to theater, screening it and holding Q&As afterward, and charging the people who showed up a premium for the service. That’s fine for Smith’s loyal fanbase, but what about the rest of us who might just have a passing interest in checking out the movie and aren’t willing to pay a hefty ticket price for the experience of seeing it with the director in the room? Now we’ve got an option coming our way as well.

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If you’re the type of old school movie fan that simply must browse a shelf before deciding what you’re going to curl up and watch for the evening, then life just got a whole lot more affordable; as long as there’s still a Blockbuster open in your area. In an effort to lure customers away from the cheaper options of Netflix and Redbox, Blockbuster is set to begin offering thousands of their titles for only 99 cents a day, and is lowering prices on new release films as well. And under a new promotion, if you rent one movie priced at $2.99 a day, you will also be able to take home a film of a lesser price for free until July 4. Putting older films at 99 cents a piece will put many of Blockbuster’s prices right in line with heated rival Redbox. Renting new releases for $2.99 still makes Blockbuster the more expensive option on the most sought after films, though. Blockbuster is still relying on exclusive deals that get them new video releases several weeks before the kiosk and mailing services to hold onto a chunk of that audience, but I just don’t know how many people aren’t willing to wait another couple weeks to get the movie cheaper. Especially in today’s entertainment climate where there are a million other things they can just go watch instead. Blockbuster president Michael Kelly said this about their new initiative, “Our customers are seeking a better value, we’ve answered with […]

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Once upon a time, about twenty years ago or so, Disney didn’t have to rely on Pixar to keep their legacy as King of children’s entertainment going.  A new generation of hand drawn Disney classics like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast were breaking box office records, earning critical acclaim, and winning awards. Then came The Lion King in 1994, a film that to this day holds the record as being the highest grossing hand drawn animated feature of all time. The Lion King was perhaps the crowning achievement of Disney’s second golden age, and in order to remind you of their past accomplishments, Disney is going to celebrate by selling it to you all over again.

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