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Blockbuster Bows First Weinstein Exclusive

16 Jan, 2007 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Blockbuster Inc. today made available the first two titles in its exclusive rental distribution agreement with The Weinstein Co. (TWC).

The 2005 martial arts movies include The Protector from Quentin Tarantino's production company and starring Tony Jaa (Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior), and Seven Swords with Donnie Yen from Hong Kong director Tsui Hark.

Last November, TWC agreed to give Blockbuster exclusive video rental rights for four years to all its theatrical and direct-to-video movies for a guaranteed minimum based on the individual title's acquisition or production costs.

Future exclusive rental titles include Bobby with Lindsey Lohan, School for Scoundrels (Billy Bob Thornton), documentary Shut Up & Sing with the Dixie Chicks, Miss Potter (Renee Zellweger), Grindhouse, The Nanny Diaries and CGI-animated Arthur and the Invisibles.

“As a result of this agreement with [TWC], Blockbuster is going to be able to give great visibility to quality independent films … some of which may not have had wide theatrical release or any theatrical release at all,” said Matthew Smith, Blockbuster SVP, merchandising. “We will now be able to really market these films in-store and online and make them available to virtually 100% of the U.S. population. We are thrilled to be able to do this for our customers, and we think it's a pretty exciting opportunity for independent filmmakers as well.”

The titles — distributed by Genius Products — did not include the controversial 1-800 consumer number that would purportedly ask consumers to tell TWC if they had rented the DVD from a rentailer other than Blockbuster.

According to Massachusetts District Court documents filed in a lawsuit brought in December by independent Massachusetts retailers Todd Zaganiacz and Nolan Anaya against TWC, there is no 1-800 number on any of the recently released Blockbuster exclusive discs and no plans to include such messaging in the immediate future.

However, TWC discs that went out to retail accounts such as Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, etc. do carry a four-second embedded message at the beginning of the disc, according to court filings. That message simply states "This DVD is intended for sale only."

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit had requested a temporary restraining order to prevent TWC from including a 1-800 on the discs until the case was heard. But the current round of releases and those immediately forthcoming had no such message embedded, according to TWC executives cited in court documents.

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