November 17, 2006

Blockbuster Receives Exclusive Rights to All Weinstein Films

NEW YORK (Reuters) — Blockbuster (BBI) said Wednesday it reached a four-year deal giving it exclusive U.S. rental rights to Weinstein films, allying itself with the independent movie studio as it battles for market share.
The deal teams Blockbuster with movie industry veterans brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein as it tries to counter an expensive rivalry with Netflix (NFLX) over online rentals, as well as cooling store-based movie rentals.

Bobby, a depiction of Robert Kennedy's final day before being assassinated, starring Anthony Hopkins and Demi Moore, and The Nanny Diaries featuring Scarlett Johansson, are part of the first slate of rentals movies to be exclusively available at Blockbuster.
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You could probably guess where I come down on all this. I really fucking hate Blockbuster. I usually think that people who complain about such things are way out of touch with reality, I mean there are several things that are worth getting really angry about and Blockbuster hiring people who don't know 8 1/2 from 9 1/2 Weeks, making filmmakers turn in R-rated cuts of their NC-17 films, requiring all returned DVDs to be rewound, masking late fees under their "no late fees promotion" as "restocking fees"; it's not on that level. Anybody who gets really mad at that or even places it on the same level as Congressmen cutting taxes while increasing military funding and cutting social spending while adding tighter restrictions on abortion is a pampered little shit. But maybe I'm wrong, this news somehow really infuriates me. The idea that I might have to walk into a Blockbuster to rent Grindhouse is so utterly degrading that it's vaguely sexual. I'd rather rent from McDonald's.

I got the pic from Florida-area video store
Video Rodeo, whose archival ads remind me of why I'm only gonna pursue that dream of opening my own video store once I win the lottery.

41 comments:

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Yeah. Fuck Blockbuster. But...

requiring all returned DVDs to be rewound

What???

Alex Jackson said...

I remember reading several anecdotal reports on Roger Ebert's Answer Man column that they required all DVDs to be rewound before they are returned. To their credit I think they dropped this requirement once they learned how the DVD technology works.

Ian Pugh said...

Blockbuster has been arguing for that point for years, H-Man, without ever once considering that they may be wrong. It's true that DVDs taken out of their machines -- without hitting the "stop" button, that is -- can return to that specific point in the film when put back in (I found this out several weeks after the last time I saw Darkman), but that only accounts for individual DVD players, not the DVDs themselves. Why this would bother anyone else renting them is beyond me.

And man, I wish that any of my local video stores had the balls to print a card like that. Oh, wait, it's because there's a Blockbuster there, too.

As much as I agree with the sentiment of "fuck Blockbuster," though, wasn't this something of an inevitability? Doesn't make it right, of course, but Pixar and DreamWorks are apparently ghettoizing the two-disc special editions of Cars and Over the Hedge to Wal-Mart and Target respectively in order to save their own DVD sales. So when the once-final-say-or-else in movie rentals is under threat of Chapter 11, they're going to take the logical step forward by forcing localization of rentals. Good for Blockbuster, bad for moviegoers. Wow! What a difference!

Next step, of course, is going to be the sale of movies themselves, special features or no. Once Blu-Ray/HD-DVD really takes off, consider it just a matter of time.

Dave Gibson said...

I feel unclean myself on the rare occassions I rent from Blockbuster--my stringent anti-Block philosophy wavers a little when pondering a trip to a hipper shop in the midst of a Canadian winter. I must admit, however, that I am a begrudging fan of the "no late fees" dealie--the "re-stocking" fee kicks in only after a full week--so, I usually can get my act together and return that copy of "Click" without any further punishment.

mimo70 said...

I work at an independant video store located just down the street from a blockbuster. We carry the popular flicks but specialize in hard to find films - obscure classics, foreign films and lots of little known docs and indie films.

I can't tell you how many times customers have come in here to sign up all because they've just had it with bb's ignorant staff and limited selection.

As far as this deal with the Weinsteins- it's a sad bullying move. In other words, not surprising at all.

Ciao.

theoldboy said...

I ran around to video stores trying to find Keaton's The General and Chaplins Gold Rush to watch for film class one day, and Blockbuster, which certainly wasn't my first destination when looking, didn't have either of them. It's gotten to the point where they have two or three movies per letter in each genre, and both of them were made in the last five years with rare exception.

aron said...

Couldn't agree with you more, Alex.

Btw, could you change the "recieve" from your post's title to "receive"? I don't care about text typos but titles kind of hit you over the head.

Bill C said...

Fixed on Alex's behalf.

Ever hear the one about the dyslexic who walked into a bra?

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Dammit I hate those "ie" and "ei" spellings. English is such a primitive one-dimensional language. Now, how the hell do "i" and "e" together make any sense phonetically.

Anonymous said...

No Walter on the Bill Press Show this morning - what gives?

Rich said...

How is English primitive and one-dimensional, Hollow Man? Surely the 'depth' of language comes from how you use it, doesn't it?

Jefferson said...

I guess if you hate Ballbuster, it's a good thing the Weinstein Co. really hasn't put forth anything worth seeing. I mean, Doogal? School for Scoundrels? We're not talking about the ghettoization of great cinema here so far.

The rave-up on Bobby and FFN this week is classic. And although I fear I won't be able to talk my S.O. into it, I'm dying to see the new Bond. I'm amazed they had the balls (pardon) to retain one of the key scenes of brutality from the novel.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

What I meant by English bieng one dimensional is that the words are basically combination of letters in the alphabet. In some other languages, specifically Hindi that I know of, there are two different set of alphabets, in a way, that combine to make words. In a reductive sense, one can say that vowels and constants can combine to form a letter and don't work separately even though they can. Essentially it works by combining the vertical and horizontal, like by adding a sound on top of the letter, i.e. say "Be" can be one letter by adding the "e" sound on top of "B", and not just the horizontal like in case of English. So one can never pronounce and write differently. Thus one can write anything from any language in Hindi. I have been told it works the exact same way in Arabic.

That's a horrible description but coming from a science background that's the best I can do. But this is the basic reason why there are so many accents with which people speak English language.

theoldboy said...

I'd have to disagree with the picture on one point: I wouldn't say fuck Hollywood Video, as they have a nice selection, lots of foreign films and uncut non-mainstream horror stuff. Though I have Netflix, I'm an impulsive renter so I don't like to have to sit with my choices of movies for a day before they arrive because I start second-guessing myself and am unable to change my selection, whereas going to Hollywood Video allows me to second-guess myself and change it. This is why a trip to the video store takes an hour with me.

Anybody here hyped for The Fountain? Between the good review in Slant and the fact that Steve Rhodes considers it one of the worst movies ever made, I'm hovering in a cold, numb zone between being psyched and preparing for a pretentious glob of existential snot.

Bill C said...

I wouldn't put much stock in Steve Rhodes on principle. He's one of those guys who believes that movies can and should be evaluated utterly objectively--that critics are consumer reporters. We've duked it out before within the OFCS, and in one telling exchange he said we shouldn't recommend anything we like if we know the nebulous "audience" will not, otherwise they won't "trust" us in the future. (There's so much wrong with that philosophy, never mind that discord breeds its own form of trust.) I believe he sincerely hates The Fountain, though, because it's arty and nonlinear and other things he considers toxic.

Jared said...

Yeah this is evil and desperate and megalomaniacal and all; but I get blockbuster rentals for free and copy them because I have a friend who works there and gets like 5 a week. Plus Blockbuster is the only place to rent from locally and I do not care for Netflix despite their admittedly large selection.

James Allen said...

Well, people may not like this Blockbuster deal, but as consumers, we're not entitled to get everything we want from one source, and these kind of exclusivity deals are far from new. But hey, it might backfire. It looks more like a desperation move on Blockbuster's part than anything else (as well as a way for the Weinstein's to pocket some quick cash.)

James Allen said...

P.S. Oh yeah, I almost forget. I found something on the internet that I thought was funny as hell and figured you guys would get a kick out of it:

Revenge of the Sith: Abridged Script written by Rod Hilton

Ian Pugh said...

The Fountain instills more mixed feelings in me than any film I've seen this year. It's definitely got something fascinating in relation to its "conquistador" and "present day" scenarios, thanks in no small part to Hugh Jackman and his brilliantly single-minded performance -- for the seven hundred movies that Jackman was in this year, this is the one where he really sticks out. However, a very genuine statement on the necessity of mortality is fatally distracted by its "future" segment, nonsensical attempt at 2001: A Space Odyssey. I honestly have no idea where Aronofsky thought it fit into an already perfect metaphor; although it is presented in the same nonlinear fashion, consider it the Godfather, Part III in the trilogy of chronicles featured in The Fountain.

James said...

I'm not famliar with the rental business, so perhaps this is a bit of a naive or silly question, but how the hell does a deal like this work? I understand retail exclusives, the producer will only ship new copies of a product (usually limited edition) to a specific reseller. Fine.

But they're still selling these DVDs everywhere, right? Wallmart, Target, Amazon, etc., etc. Can't a store still just buy it and rent out (or in Netflix case, bulk buy - obviously bulk buys would be easier to cause issues with), the renting being covered by the first-sale doctrine of copyright law.

I know in the days of VHS rentals, video stores would have to buy direct from studios (or whoever the studio middlemen were), but this was when the timeline of Theatrical-Rental/Pay Per View-Sale-Cable TV-Broadcast TV was much stricter than it is now. Legally, what is there to stop your friendly local video store from going out on whatever Tuesday morning, heading to Walmart, buying 10 copies of Bobby or whatever other shitty movie the Weinsteins released, taking it back to there store and stocking the shelves. Is that illegal?

Don't get me wrong, I understand that normally the studios cooperate on some level with independant stores and this would be a major inconvenience. But can they actually sue a store that does the scenario I described above? And on what legal grounds? Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I get my flicks from Blockbuster and Blockbuster Online. I'm not proud of it, but they're so fucking desperate for my patronage. For the same price as Netflix, I can get like twice as many movies a week. Which is unfortunate, because Netflix has got their shit together way more, but more movies is more movies. Sometimes I surf the Netflix website because I miss it so.

--Kim

Bill C said...

On a tangential note, the trailer for David Fincher's Zodiac is finally up.

Can't wait. But is it just me, or does it seem a little insulting to be releasing this in January?

ed gonzalez said...

To theoldboy: The Fountain IS "a pretentious glob of existential snot." If it matters, it's also one of those globs of snot that's hard to get out of your head.

Andrew Tracy said...

Memo to Alex Jackson:

if you ever use the phrase "cum dumpster" in a review again, I'm going to come to your house and punch you in the nose. It sure is a good trick: by using the phrase to indicate a view supposedly held by the filmmakers or the film's characters, you get to air your dirty little-boy words in a public forum and no doubt get your rocks off good. I don't know about other film criticism, but yours sure as hell is "essentially masturbatory."

The Captain said...

I dunno, Andrew, as crude as the phrase is, it's pretty accurate as to how a lot of women are depicted in film (particularly of the Bay/Bruckheimer school of film, even though Alex wasn't referring to them here) and thus doesn't seem out of place in Alex's review. Crude, unpleasant, dirty little-boy words or not, the phrase has power and meaning and significance. I can't fault Alex.

theoldboy said...

In case you folks haven't noticed, Alex's board has just been assailed by cyber-wannabe-terrorists fighting for the right to have opinions and express them in a free market of ideas. And by "fight for", I mean "spam and rail limply against".

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

What's wrong with "cum dumpster"? It's an accurate image which would loose it's visceral impact without the profanity. I'm all for vulgarity as long as it is focused and accurate. And criticism must be essentuially subjective and masturabatory, if a film is so bad that you fall asleep, write about the nightmares you had. That's my two cent.

Alex Jackson said...

Memo to Alex Jackson:

if you ever use the phrase "cum dumpster" in a review again, I'm going to come to your house and punch you in the nose. It sure is a good trick: by using the phrase to indicate a view supposedly held by the filmmakers or the film's characters, you get to air your dirty little-boy words in a public forum and no doubt get your rocks off good. I don't know about other film criticism, but yours sure as hell is "essentially masturbatory."


That's very manly of you to threaten to kick my ass, but I would think that if you're developed enough to contexualize the phrase as being "dirty little-boy words" then you wouldn't be taking offense.

And indeed, as previously stated by others, I can't think of any phrase that would work better. Really, I did not intend that for shock value at all, those two words were the very best I could think of to describe what it was I was describing.

In the last half hour, I've discovered that I have severe masochistic and narcisstic tendencies. Being a subject of debate, it's like an early Christmas.

Justin said...

Between this thread, the Hipinion thing and your board, it must be like Christmas, Hanukkah and your birthday all rolled together, Alex. ;)

Bill C said...

The phrases "cum dumpster" and "cum bucket" have dominated FFC's search engine today. Between that and Viddied's board-jacking, I feel like there's some irrevocable fissure in the space-time continuum.

Justin said...

I was one of those searches, I'm afraid--I wasn't going to read the Con Air review unless I had to. Though if anyone can make a Michael Bay movie review seem worthwhile it's Alex. You guys have to give him the Transformers assignment when it comes out.

And I keep wanting to get pissed off about the Viddied jacking but Alex seems more bemused about it than anything else.

Dave Gibson said...

To Recap:

Art (like film criticism) is hyper-personal, self indulgent and essentially masturbatory--but, should aspire to intellectual, moral and emotional complexity yet by definition, serves no neccessary social function.

All this limp railing and board jacking is making me sleepy.

Dave Gibson said...

I just learned that Robert Altman has died.

"The death of an old man is not a tragedy".

Perhaps, but I'm sure I'll still have a look at McCabe tonight--with a heart just a little heavier than usual.

Rest in Peace Bob. Death? "It don't worry me."

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Rest in peace. Bob. He was one of the greatest.

Between that and Viddied's board-jacking, I feel like there's some irrevocable fissure in the space-time continuum

That board-jacking makes me really relate with the family in Funny Games.

Keith Uhlich said...

Per Robert Altman, I've just published a remembrance over at "The House Next Door" and hope you'll all come over to comment:

Robert Altman at The House

Bill C said...

Fuck, this week just gets worse and worse.

I'm starting to think those board-jackers are a troupe of satirists. They've got Travis Bickle avatars, ask Alex accusingly how many Criterions he owns, and police grammar while perverting the English language with reckless abandon. Also, they claim to be film theorists but unless I'm mistaken have so far only cited THE ONION A.V. CLUB as an example of scholarly writing. In other words, they've got the buzzwords down, but their facade doesn't stand up to much scrutiny.

Justin said...

It appears to be half put-on and half college-age kids who have convinced themselves they know everything they need to know about movies.

And I feel stupid for talking about troll fu today. I'm going to watch Popeye tonight to make up for it.

shrug said...

Here I was looking forward to the review of Rescue Dawn only to be presented with Fay Grim in its stead.

Bill C said...

Damn cut and paste. Fixed!

vonschiller said...

fwiw, Family Guy's alternative, safe-for-TV use of "sperm dumpster" pretty well captured the image...

Blockbuster Employee said...

Heya, I don't wany anyone getting pissed or thinking I'm here to preach the virtues of corporate stench, I just want to stick in my couple of cents as a Blockbuster Employee.

First off, I am COMPLETELY with you guys on the Blockbuster exclusives, as well as many other sentiments. Alot of the shit Blockbuster does screws over customers. There ya go, from one of the workers, that is said. Especially our Online program. Never before have I witnessed a complete boning of so many people. The program is called Total Access, and that's what it is. Total Access to the customers' nether regions, so that they may be perfectly screwed over. There's a reason you bend over to sign the forms...

However, I dont really have a problem with our "restocking fee: thing. Yes, it's late fees, plain and simple. However, it takes a while for it to charge, so for the average customer who brings in movies a few days late, there's no additional money to pay. It really hits the morons who keep a movie for a few months, which I'm totally for.

And I saw a few mentions of some Blockbuster employees being ignorant of movies. And I assure you that I'm not suprised. Four of the nine who work at my particular store know jack. But there are some who genuinely love movies, which is hte only reason we work there; god knows the customers treat us like shit, so the only solace we have is some free movie rentals.

I guess I'd like to just say that I'm down with the bad taste some of you get when you walk into a Blockbuster, I get it too, and I work there. Just please don't take it out on the few employees who know what they're doing.