April 1, 2021
In a series of shocking moves, bankrupt/shuttered Blockbuster Video LLC April 1 filed papers with the Securities Exchange Commission seeking to go public in 2021 — and headed by 72-year-old former CEO John Antioco. Blockbuster, which at its peak operated more than 9,000 locations worldwide, is looking to sell 100 million Class A common shares with an opening price of $10 per share.
In an exclusive interview with Media Play News, Antioco says the funds would be used to acquire SVOD behemoth Netflix for a purchase price of $1 trillion — the largest corporate acquisition in history. Netflix co-founder/co-CEO Reed Hastings will assume the title of honorary president, while co-CEO/CCO Ted Sarandos will be tasked with revitalizing Blockbuster’s retail footprint. Sarandos, a former video store manager before joining Netflix when it was primarily a by-mail disc rental service, was not immediately available for comment.
The merger comes 21 years after the infamous Dallas meeting where Hastings and former Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy came looking to sell Netflix to Blockbuster for $50 million. Hastings and McCarthy were reportedly laughed out of the conference room by Blockbuster executives. Netflix now has a market cap around $250 billion. Blockbuster shuttered all remaining corporate-owned stores in 2013.
“I’m not laughing now,” Antioco said, adding Hastings has an interest in jumpstarting vinyl record sales at the new Blockbuster stores. “[Hastings] told me the only way to really appreciate Billie Eilish is on vinyl. Whatever Reed says, I’m listening.”
India Buys Disney; CEO Bob Chapek Relocates to Tibet
The Walt Disney Co. April 1 announced it has agreed in principle to an acquisition offer from the government of India. While financial details of the extraordinary deal have not been disclosed, scuttlebutt suggests the price tag exceeds $1 trillion.
India has become a focal point among studios and over-the-top video platforms seeking to tap into the world’s No. 2 population. With 1.4 billion people, including 1.1 billion on portable media devices such as smartphones, India is fertile ground for SVOD platforms looking for growth to justify multibillion-dollar infrastructure/content investments and the future of their movie/TV program distribution.
When Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, included in the deal was Hotstar, an Indian SVOD platform offering exclusive access to Indian Premier League cricket. Hotstar is now part of Disney+, and accounts for 30% of the platform’s 95 million subscribers.
“The transaction represents a new world order in entertainment and changing consumer dynamic,” said CEO Bob Chapek, who will continue to run what will be known as Mumbai Disney from an office in a Bangalore office park.
In an exclusive interview with Media Play News, Chapek says he will open a second office in Tibet. “I hear the skiing’s great,” he says.
Mitch Lowe Returns to Roots With VHS-Only Rental Store
Mitch Lowe is returning to his video rental roots by opening a VHS-only video rental store in Sausalito, Calif.
Lowe, best known as one of the founders of both Netflix and Redbox — as well as the spectacularly unsuccessful MoviePass — announced his latest venture in an April 1 news release.
He is resurrecting the name of the video store he ran before his other ventures — Video Droid — and in a nod to MoviePass is offering customers the chance to rent as many videocassettes as they like for a monthly subscription fee of $9.99.
“The only stipulation is they have to sign a contract agreeing to rewind all rented videocassettes,” Lowe said.
As for returns, “I don’t care if they bring them back or not,” he says.
His opening inventory includes such classics as New Line’s Poison Ivy, with a young Drew Barrymore; MGM’s original 50th anniversary release of The Wizard of Oz, with a completely unrestored version of the classic film and absolutely no bonus content; and 1993’s Snapdragon, one of many erotic thrillers released in the 1990s by Prism Entertainment.
The new store even has a slogan: “Make it a Video Droid night.”
Resurrected Fox Home Video Bows New Windowing Strategy
Former Fox Home Video executives Mike Dunn, Pat Wyatt and Steve Feldstein on April 1 announced a hostile takeover of what’s left of the original 20th Century Fox film operation acquired, and subsequently absorbed, by the Walt Disney Co.
With funding from private equity firm Lieberfarb & Associates, the reborn studio says it will release all of its films simultaneously in theaters and on DVD.
The three executives won’t comment publicly, citing pending litigation, but sources suggest projects in the pipeline include an updated version of the famed Star Wars holiday special and a belated Die Hard sequel set in the iconic Fox Tower now owned by Dunn, who since leaving Fox has made a fortune in the craft brewery business.
Paramount+ Revamps Logo, Changes Blue to ‘Tickled Pink’
The new Paramount+ subscription streaming is changing the color of its logo from blue to “Tickled Pink” in honor of Paramount Home Entertainment president Bob Buchi’s iconic home office.
The office, seen by millions through Buchi’s frequent appearances on DEG virtual conferences, is an extra bedroom in a rented house. The unique, eye-catching color has become a symbol of home entertainment’s resilience during the pandemic.
The color has become so popular that other executives whose home offices are frequently seen by DEG conference attendees, including Warner Bros. Home Entertainment president Jim Wuthrich, PBS Distribution president Andrea Downing, and Google Play’s Jonathan Zepp, are considering similar shades of pink for their home offices.
Trade Publication ‘Media Play News’ Gets New Owner, Focus
Media Play News has been sold.
The publication – one of five Hollywood trades and the only one to focus exclusively on home entertainment – has been picked up by publishing giant Conde Nast in a deal reportedly valued in the billions.
Existing staff members John Boezinger, John Latchem and Stephanie Prange, along with reporter Erik Gruenwedel, will be kept on board as the publication transitions into a consumer magazine aimed at tropical fish aficionados.
Publisher Thomas K. Arnold is leaving immediately to open a combination vinyl LP and rare book store near his Carlsbad, Calif. home.
“I’ll also be selling 30 years’ worth of tchotchkes on eBay, in partnership with the DEG’s Amy Jo Smith,” Arnold said. “We’ve got all sorts of cool collectibles, from Gone with the Wind watches to Eminem 8 Mile skull caps — and an unlimited supply of SpongeBob stickers and coloring books.”
“I’ve got quite a few DEG-Deloitte bags,” Smith said. “It will be nice to no longer have to pay for that storage unit.”