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Disney at war with Redbox over new DVD rental policy

June 06, 2012|By Ben Fritz
  • Disney is not selling "John Carter" to Redbox until 28 days after the DVD goes on sale.
Disney is not selling "John Carter" to Redbox until 28 days after… (Walt Disney Studios )

"John Carter's" journey into Redbox kiosks may be as complicated as a flight to Mars.

Walt Disney Studios has decided to not sell its DVDs to any rental outlets, including Redbox, Netflix and Blockbuster, until 28 days after they go on sale.

Disney previously offered its DVDs to Redbox the same day they went on sale at retail stores and online.

The policy change began with the studio's release of the Japanese animation movie "The Secret World of Arrietty" on May 22, a studio spokeswoman confirmed, but has gained widespread notice this week as it is applying to the high-profile flop "John Carter."

Redbox is retaliating by stocking its machines with copies of  "John Carter" that it purchaes at retail stores, setting up the same type of dispute with Disney that it is already engaged in with Warner Bros.

"We will be sourcing 'John Carter' through alternative means," a Redbox spokeswoman confirmed.

The Redbox website indicates that "John Carter" will be available in its kiosks June 12, one week after it went on sale.

The switch indicates that the Burbank media giant has adopted the view held by Warner, Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox that $1.20 per night rentals from Redbox cut into more profitable DVD sales and video-on-demand rentals.

Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger said in February that his studio was considering joining the 28-day delay bandwagon. Redbox doesn't stock its kiosks with copies of Universal and Fox movies during the first four weeks that the DVDs are on sale because it has agreements with those studios to wait in exchange for a significant discount. It has no such agreement with Disney.

Warner Bros. has demanded that Redbox wait 56 days to rent its DVDs, a so-called "window" that the kiosk company has said was too long. As a result, Redbox currently buys Warner DVDs from retail stores.

A Netflix spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the subscription video company has traditionally abided by studios' windows without objections because it does not make most of its money from new releases.

A spokesman for Dish Network-owned Blockbuster, which has not accepted windows on new releases in the past, did not immediately respond to a request for comment either.

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