The movie studios have been floating the idea for months now, but according to All Things D, premium video on demand is launching soon. The system is being endorsed by four of the big studios: Warner, Sony, NBC-Universal, and Fox. Customers in select markets with DirectTV and Comcast service will have the option to pay $30 to rent films that are still in theaters. Pricey, but it might make sense.
The day had finally arrived; Blockbuster has finally filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Chapter 11 means that the company will have the opportunity to reorganize and rid itself of cumbersome debt. In the filing, Blockbuster listed $1.02 billion in assets, and $1.46 billion in debt. The company expects to be able to reduce its total debt to a mere $125 million.
Blockbuster has been seeing steadily decreasing sales as digital services like Netflix have taken of in recent years. The Dallas-based company has about 3000 stores currently. They are expected to close as many as 1000 of them. After they complete reorganization, Blockbuster will attempt to focus more on digital content delivery. Considering the lateness of this push, they'll have a lot of catching up to do.
The future is unclear for the brick and mortar chain. They have been able to bundle video rental app with some phones as of late, and this could be a possible way to move forward. We'd also like to see a viable competitor to Netflix in the online streaming category. But the worry is that content would become increasingly siloed; exclusive to one company or the other. Do you think Blockbuster can find a place in the market?
Paramount has taken the opposite stance to that of their fellow Hollywood studios regarding DVD rental service Redbox. Warner Bros., Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox have all extracted a deal from Redbox that sees them making movies available only after a 28 day waiting period. This is intended to drive sales of the newly released discs. In reality, it most likely just drives consumers mad. Paramount has agreed to allow Redbox to rent movies the day they are made available for sale.
Despite how the press portrays Hollywood as all glitz and glamour, there are a lot of hard working have-nots toiling away in the film industry. These have-nots don’t get the notoriety of their more famous brethren, which makes them, all-in-all, a desperate bunch. This makes YouTube’s recent venture up to the Sundance Film Festival a pretty smart move. If you want to get into the film rental business, and the big names aren’t biting, then start trolling for the have-nots. And where better to find them than at Sundance?
Let’s take YouTube’s action as both cynical and strategic, and put it aside. Because, if the have-nots bite, then one of the ultimate beneficiaries of this plan will be us. Each year independent filmmakers show off their wares at Sundance, and a small handful wind up being well worth watching. Problem is, the major studios aren’t so keen on cutting distribution deals, which prevents us from seeing them. YouTube is offering a new approach that eliminates the middleman, gives filmmakers a way of promoting their product (while making a few bucks), and gives us a chance to see some good cinema.
YouTube says it will make available five films from the 2009 and 2010 festivals for rental starting this Friday and running through Sunday, January 31. YouTube says it has also signed up other U.S. partners from which it will offer a small collection of rental videos in the weeks ahead. And lastly, YouTube will promote its rental program among independents at Sundance with a “Filmmakers Wanted” campaign.
YouTube’s advice: get your checkout account ready, pop some corn, and stock up on swedish fish--it’s showtime!