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Report: Redbox Bypassing Embargoed Smaller Box Office Titles

28 Dec, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Dec. 22 new releases (500) Days of Summer and All About Steve from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment were notably absent from Redbox kiosks during a check of more than 100 locations by Merriman Curhan Ford analyst Eric Wold.

Fox, Universal and Warner Home Video have embargoed new releases to rental kiosks from 28 days or more after street date — a move that triggered litigation by Redbox against the studios.

Wold, who covers Redbox parent Coinstar Inc., said the lack of aforementioned titles was likely due to their respective lower box office tallies ($32 million for (500) Days and $34 million for Steve); thereby making obtaining rental copies via third-party retail channels less appealing.

“This was probably due to the movies’ relatively low box office revenue,” Wold wrote in a Dec. 28 note.

Indeed, embargoed title The Hangover ($277 box office) appeared in 98% of the kiosks, up from 88% during its first week, and Inglourious Basterds ($120 million box office and distributed by Universal) showed up in 98% of the kiosks vs. 85% the first week.

The Video Buyers Group, which disputes Wold’s findings, said availability of Hangover and Basterds topped 26% and 24%, respectively, at 524 Redbox kiosks in 25 states surveyed.

“Wold's number's are not even in the realm of possibilities,” said VBG’s Ted Engen.

Finally, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s District 9 appeared in 99% of kiosks and checked out in 39% of surveyed kiosks, according to Wold.

Sony has an exclusive distribution deal with Redbox.

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