Jerry Anderson, owner of Boise-based DVD/Blu-ray rental shop Video Memories, confessed to having a lot of confused customers these days. “Why are Redbox kiosks and the Netflix site so short on new releases nowadays?” they keep asking.
And he keeps telling them the same thing: The pair of red rental retailers have struck deals with major movie studios, agreeing to delay loading the studios’ biggest new hits into their catalogs until four weeks after they’ve been released.
Yep, the LA Times ran an article about the situation this weekend. Warner Bros., Fox and Universal are spearheading efforts to harass Redbox because they believe “low-cost new-release rentals undercut the home entertainment business.” And it’s worked. Netflix and Redbox have signed deals with many of the big dogs, and other, smaller studios are expected to follow suit.
So if, like me, you’ve been wondering why Ninja Assassin, the new Warner Bros. action film produced by Matrix makers the Wachowski brothers, is listed as unavailable from Netflix until Tuesday, April 12, even though it’s been available on DVD and Blu-ray since March 16, now you know: because studios think that you, the consumer, are getting too big of a bargain by being able to rent their new releases for a buck. And if you can view them on the cheap right away, they figure you will be less likely to buy the film.
Studio execs are probably right. But it’s hard to feel good about their decision.
Meanwhile, maybe it’s actually good news for the brick-and-mortar retailers like Video Memories (along with chains like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video), whose profits clearly went down the toilet when Netflix and Redbox came online.
I long for the video store experience. I miss the days of walking to the grocery store after school to rent a couple of titles on VHS and snag some snacks. So shifting the rental landscape back into the favor of these guys sounds like a good thing and I hope Jerry and others like him see some benefit from this turn of events.