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Video stores, union reps rally against buck-a-night Redbox kiosks

from www.tech.yahoo.com – The $1 movie rentals available through DVD kiosks like Redbox could spell “disaster” for the film and video industries—or at least, that’s the argument of representatives for video stores and Hollywood unions, who want movie lovers to dump Redbox and return to their corner “mom-and-pop” DVD rental outlets.

Video Business reports that the Video Buyers Group, a trade organization for some 1,700 independent brick-and-mortar video stores, is prepping an ad campaign that’ll paint Redbox as a threat to the film industry as we know it. Why? Because its $1-a-night rental rate is “generating less revenue” for Hollywood studios than the $3-$5/night prices charged by the average video store, according to Video Business.

Indeed, the New York Times quotes Video Buyers Group president Ted Engen as saying that “those machines”—think Redbox and its ilk—”are to the video industry what the Internet was to the music business—disaster.”

Also on the attack against DVD kiosks: Gary Cook of UA Local 87, the union that represents movie studio plumbers: “It’s going to kill the industry,” Cook warned the Times.

Redbox is already waging war with Universal, 20th Centurty Fox, and Warner Brothers, all of which are seeking to keep their video distributors from selling their latest DVDs to Redbox until weeks after their discs hit video stores.

Redbox has filed lawsuits against all three studios, while Sony, Lionsgate, and Paramount have each cut distribution deals—complete with new releases delivered on the day of their retail debuts—with the popular DVD kiosk company.

So, why all the fuss? Simple: Hollywood execs (who are already alarmed by sinking DVD sales) are furious that Redbox would dare rent the latest DVDs for just a buck a night, a price that is “grossly undervaluing” their hottest new movies, while struggling mom-and-pop video stores are fretting that DVD kiosks and their cheap rental policies are undercutting their own rental prices.

From what I’ve seen, people love the bright red Redbox kiosks: they’re ubiquitous (in certain parts of the country, anyway), they’re easy to use, they offer instant DVD gratification, and (yes) the rental price is right.

But as many of you have noted, just because you rent movies from Redbox doesn’t mean you’ll never go to the corner video store (or Netflix) again; after all, most DVD kiosks only hold a few hundred movies, so what you gain in terms of instant gratification you lose in terms of selection.

While I can understand how indie video stores might feel threatened by the buck-and-night DVD kiosk, I’m pretty sure there’s room for everyone—after all, good luck finding a copy of “8-1/2” at the Redbox kiosk in McDonald’s.

And as for Redbox killing the film industry? Give me a break.

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