Warner Bros. withholds films from Blockbuster
The studio has said it will no longer authorize the video store chain to carry its new movies when they are released on DVD. At issue is Warner Bros.' desire to have outlets such as Blockbuster offer its films only for sale for the first 28 days of release before allowing consumers to rent titles. Netflix and Redbox also have to wait 28 days before offering Warner Bros. titles for rent.
Warner Bros. has long enforced this policy with Redbox and other outlets, but this marks the first time it has played hardball with Blockbuster, which was recently sold to satellite broadcaster Dish Network.
That Warner Bros. made this move soon after Blockbuster announced plans to create its own online streaming service to compete with Netflix is no coincidence. When Blockbuster was strictly a retail outlet, Warner Bros. was friendlier toward it because it wanted the video chain — which has struggled financially — to survive and compete against Netflix and Redbox.
Blockbuster is apparently taking matters into its own hands and buying up copies of Warner Bros. releases to stock the shelves in its stores. A spokesman for Dish declined to comment.
Warner Bros. has indicated that it will seek to increase the length of the 28-day window with Netflix and Redbox when it negotiates new deals with the two companies later this year.
The Financial Times first reported this story.
— Joe Flint
Photo: Blockbuster storefront in Dallas, Texas. Credit: LM Otero / Associated Press.