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Blockbuster eyes streaming to TVs

Apple TV is getting some competition from Blockbuster.

The home video giant is developing a set-top device for streaming films directly to TV sets and is expected to announce the offering sometime this month.

Blockbuster declined comment, but a spokeswoman for the company said: “We’re talking to numerous companies and vendors about products, services, alliances and initiatives that can help us achieve our mission to transform Blockbuster into a company that provides access to media content across multiple channels — from our stores, by mail, through kiosks, through downloading, through portable content-enabled devices– so it’s not surprising that there are rumors out there.”

The device would join a growing roster of devices that aim to bring broadband video to the living room, including Apple TV, which hasn’t quite seen sales match the hype surrounding the product (HR 3/27). Blockbuster rival Netflix also has indicated that it will compete in this market with a similar device being created with LG Electronics.

The product would be an offshoot of Movielink, the online film service Blockbuster acquired last year that allows consumers to watch films licensed from the major studios on their PCs.

Delivering movies to TV might be the most audacious attempt yet that Blockbuster is making to reinvent its brand as digital delivery weakens the viability of its retail footprint. But by offering a home-based alternative to its stores, Blockbuster risks cannibalizing its core brick-and-mortar business in the hope that its brand will be a force online.

The device is believed to be a stand-alone product akin to Apple TV as opposed to embedding a Blockbuster-branded service in such existing devices as Microsoft’s Xbox 360 or TiVo. While going it alone could give it a distinctive positioning in the crowded “over-the-top TV” marketplace, that won’t come without significant investment in marketing and manufacturing, though the latter cost might be shared with a consumer electronics company that has yet to disclose its participation.

Blockbuster knows all too well the importance of online film rentals. When Apple said in January that iTunes would adopt a rental model, it sent Blockbuster’s stock plummeting 17% to an all-time closing low (HR 1/16).

Movielink was created in 2002 by MGM, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warners. Five years later, the underperforming venture was sold to Blockbuster for $6.6 million. The deals give Blockbuster online rights to about 6,000 movies, though there are restrictions on moving content beyond PCs and TV.

Blockbuster is at work on integrating Movielink into Blockbuster.com in time for the second quarter.

In addition to Movielink, Blockbuster CEO James Keyes indicated in November that he was in talks with handset makers about delivering movies to mobile phones. The company also is developing in-store kiosks for downloading films.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Blockbuster top rentals and sales

TORONTO (CP) _ The most popular DVDs according to Blockbuster Video Canada for the period ending July 29.


1 Zodiac

2 The Number 23

3 Premonition

4 Shooter

5 The Contractor

6 The Hills Have Eyes 2

7 Slow Burn

8 Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

9 The Last Mimzy

10 Black Snake Moan


1 The Number 23

2 Zodiac

3 The Hills Have Eyes 2

4 Premonition

5 Shooter

6 Weeds: Season 2

7 The Last Mimzy

8 Hannah Montana: Pop Star Profile

9 The Astronaut Farmer

10 The Secret

Blockbuster top 10 sales and rentals


1 Premonition

2 Shooter

3 The Hills Have Eyes 2

4 The Last Mimzy

5 Breach

6 Black Snake Moan

7 The Astronaut Farmer

8 Ghost Rider

9 The Contractor

10 Norbit


1 Premonition

2 The Hills Have Eyes 2

3 Shooter

4 The Last Mimzy

5 Hannah Montana: Pop Star Profile

6 The Astronaut Farmer

7 My Super Sweet 16 Movie

8 Black Snake Moan

9 The Secret

10 Bridge to Terabithia

Weinstein Co. and Blockbuster alliance

NEW YORK, Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ – THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY (TWC), the multi-media enterprise launched by movie industry icons Bob and Harvey Weinstein, and Blockbuster Inc. (NYSE:BBI)(NYSE:BBI.B) today announced a groundbreaking four-year exclusive alliance, which provides Blockbuster with exclusive US rental rights to TWC’s theatrical and direct-to-video movies, beginning on Jan. 1, 2007. Under the terms of the agreement, TWC and Blockbuster will share rental revenues from TWC’s theatrical and direct-to-video titles. Genius Products, LLC, TWC’s exclusive home entertainment distributor, will provide distribution services to TWC in connection with the deal. This deal however, does not include the exclusive rights in connection with retail sell-thru sales of TWC’s home entertainment product.

"We are very excited about our alliance with Blockbuster, as we believe it will bring our company increased access to millions of consumers. Blockbuster is an industry leader of in-home entertainment and is highly committed to their customers’ experience," said Bob and Harvey Weinstein, co-chairmen of The Weinstein Company. "As movie lovers, we have always aimed to produce and acquire films that people will enjoy, so we feel that this agreement is a win-win for TWC, Blockbuster and for consumers. The unique combination of Blockbuster’s established in-store retail experience with the power of their online subscription service was one of the biggest factors that attracted us to this alliance.

Through the agreement, Blockbuster will carry future theatrical and direct-to-video titles released by TWC and will have a three-year rental exclusivity for each title released. In exchange for exclusivity, Blockbuster will pay TWC a minimum guarantee, determined by box office performance, for each theatrical picture, and based on the acquisition or production costs for each DTV title.

Some of the first films available for rent exclusively at Blockbuster will include: "Bobby," starring Anthony Hopkins, Demi Moore, Sharon Store, Elijah Wood and Lindsay Lohan; "School for Scoundrels," starring Billy Bob Thornton; "The Protector," the full-bodied martial arts action film starring Thai sensation Tony Jaa; "Shut Up & Sing," a documentary following the Dixie Chicks recording their first album after making political statements prior to the Iraq War; "Miss Potter," the Beatrix Potter biopic starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor; "Grindhouse," the thrilling double feature from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez that will recall both filmmakers’ favorite exploitation films; "The Nanny Diaries," based on the New York Times No. 1 best-selling book of the same name, starring Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti; and "Arthur and The Invisibles," the larger-than-life CGI animated family adventure.

"Bob and Harvey Weinstein are legendary producers whose movies have long been customer favorites at Blockbuster," said Blockbuster Chairman and CEO John Antioco. "As evidenced by our recent introduction of Blockbuster Total Access™, Blockbuster is always looking for ways to give our customers the products and services they want – and can’t find any place else – and this agreement will enable us to do just that. Now, as the exclusive rental provider, we’ll be the only place, in-store and online, that can guarantee customers a wide selection of The Weinstein Company films available for rent."

The Weinsteins have produced some of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful movies over the past two decades, including "Chicago," "Cold Mountain," "Gangs of New York," and "Kill Bill Volume 1." In addition to their box office success, these titles also rank among the top-performing rental titles at Blockbuster. Recently, TWC’s "Derailed" was the No. 1 home video rental title for the entire rental industry in its debut week and is one of the top rental titles year-to-date, and "Lucky Number Slevin" was the No.1 home video rental title for the entire rental industry in its first two weeks of release.

Blockbuster plans to showcase the TWC movies in special sections in its stores and online. It will also offer customers the TWC movies under its in-store guaranteed availability program, which guarantees customers that select movies will be in-stock or they get a "rain-check" free rental coupon for that movie. Blockbuster also plans to share general trending information with TWC, such as the types of movies and actors the Blockbuster consumer would like to see more of, which could provide valuable insights for future film projects.

"The Weinsteins are known for their innovation and marketing expertise," Antioco said. "We look forward to leveraging the combined power of our two brands to deliver more entertainment value to our customers."

Trevor Drinkwater, President and Chief Executive Officer for Genius Products commented, "This strategic alliance exemplifies what we believe to be one of our major competitive advantages. We believe that we offer a unique ability for our content partners to explore groundbreaking agreements with our retail partners."