Scarecrow Video Offering Gift Cards for Movie Rentals, Other Items

Scarecrow Video on its online store is offering gift cards that can be used for anything Scarecrow-related from movie rentals to apparel and more.

Scarecrow Video — an independently owned, non-profit video sales and rental store in Seattle — has more than 146,000 film and TV titles on multiple formats from VHS to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, including not only recent studio releases, but also rare, noncommercial, hard-to-find and out-of-print titles. The collection spans 130 countries and nearly 130 years of filmed entertainment, according to Scarecrow.

Films can be purchased or rented at the physical store, in the University District of Seattle, or online at ScarecrowVideo.org.

Scarecrow also offered up lists of unconventional and rare holiday titles:

Christmas Crime      
Larceny, Inc (1942)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
The Silent Partner (1978)
Cash On Demand (1961)
D.O.A. (1988)
Christmas Rush (aka Breakaway) (2002)
I Wouldn’t Be in Your Shoes (1948)
Blast of Silence (1961)
Christmas Holiday (1944)
I, The Jury (1953)
The Ice Harvest (2005)
Happy New Year (1987)
Lady in the Lake (1946)
R Xmas (2002)
Riot (1996)
 
Holiday Horror
Santa’s Slay (2005)
Home for the Holidays (1974)
Christmas with the Dead (2012)
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Toys of Terror (2020)
Christmas Nightmare (2001)
Night Train Murders (1975)
Two Front Teeth (2006)
Bloody Christmas (2012)
Christmas Season Massacre (2001)
Nutcracker: An American Nightmare (2001)
One Hell of a Christmas (2002)
Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming (2013)
 
International Holidays
One Nite in Mongkok (2004)
8 Women (2002)
In Bruges (2007)
Felicidades (2000)
Joyeux Noel (2005)
Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka (1961)
Forbidden Past (1976)
Who Killed Santa Claus (1941)
The Phantom Carriage (1921)
 
Chosen Families
Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special (1988)
It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)

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Scarecrow Video By-Mail Disc Rental Service Launches Revamped Website

Seattle-based Scarecrow Video, billed as the country’s largest publicly accessible, non-profit video archive, has announced the launch of a revamped website, designed to make it easier for consumers nationwide to rent DVDs and Blu-rays by mail.

Scarecrow’s library collection features more than 145,000 film and TV titles on multiple formats, from VHS to 4K, including not only recent studio releases, but rare, noncommercial, hard-to-find and out-of-print titles, and complete collections otherwise inaccessible to the general public, according to the company.

“With an ever-changing digital landscape where films and TV series risk fading into obscurity, Scarecrow Video’s mission is preserving the future of physical media,” according to the Scarecrow release. “Serving  as custodians of cinematic history, and dedicated to ensuring this heritage remains accessible to all, Scarecrow’s collection contains thousands of films that exist exclusively on physical media, extending the life of classic treasures (cult or otherwise) that remain beyond the reach of streaming services.”

Titles offered that are unavailable on streaming services, according to Scarecrow, include All That Jazz, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Il Postino, Jungle Fever, Shall We Dance (1996), I Shot Andy Warhol, Heavenly Creatures, Band of Outsiders, Near Dark, Pink Floyd: The Wall, Super Mario Bros (1993), Airheads, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Poison Ivy, 200 Cigarettes, and TV’s “Moonlighting” and “Murphy Brown.”

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The Scarecrow collection spans 130 countries and nearly 130 years of filmed entertainment, according to the company. Scarecrow also hosts a Youtube show, Viva Physical Media.

Established in 1988 as an independent video store and transitioning into a non-profit in 2014, Scarecrow Video “is committed to nurturing film literacy, ensuring full public access to the largest privately held video and physical media archive in the United States, advancing cultural and educational enrichment through community-based film programming, and supporting the arts capacity of civic groups, educational institutions, and nonprofits in the Puget Sound area,” according to the company.

Netflix will shutter its by-mail disc rental service at the end of this month.

Unwind and Rewind: Home Video Industry Veterans to Gather for Los Angeles Reunion in September

What we once called the home video industry is approaching its 50th birthday. But while the concept is still the same — consumers getting to watch what they want, when they want, on demand — what we now call home entertainment, dominated by streaming, bears little resemblance to those early days, when the only way to watch a new movie was to run out to the nearest video rental store and watch in on cassette on the family VCR.

Back then, the business was dominated by thousands upon thousands of mom-and-pop video rental stores, which have virtually disappeared over the last three decades. But many of the pioneers who ran these stores — or worked at the studios and independent home video companies whose primary business at that time was selling these “rentailers” VHS videocassettes at $65 a pop — are still around.

Jodie Francisco, a Sherman Oaks, Calif. realtor whose own home video career ran the gamut from distributor to studio rep, is hoping many of those home video veterans will show up at the upcoming Video Industry Reunion, scheduled for Sept. 12, beginning at 5 p.m., at the Valley Inn Steakhouse and Bar at 4557 Sherman Oaks Ave. in Sherman Oaks.

“Currently, there are nearly 100 people saying they are either coming or interested,” says Francisco, whose own home video career began in 1983 at a national distributor  called Metro Video. “I was able to get a block of rooms at the Marriott Courtyard in Sherman Oaks, which is about one block from our venue.”

Among the well-known names slated to attend the reunion are Dave Mount, the former chairman and CEO of WEA; Rand Bleimeister, who held senior executive positions at such companies as Columbia TriStar Home Video and Nelson Entertainment; Janice Whiffen, a sales executive at Media Home Entertainment and Vestron Video; and Wayne Mogel, the former president and CEO of Star Video Entertainment.

Francisco has fond memories of those early days in home video. “It was like the Wild Wild West — anything goes,” she recalls. “I remember doing video presentations with Ninja dolls because the movies I was promoting at the time were so bad. I have such fond memories of those years, and as we are all getting older, I wanted to create an event to share memories and good times.”

Francisco organized the first Video Industry Reunion in May 2017, with about 75 people in attendance. A second reunion was held in June 2018, “and we had another great turnout,” she recalls. “We also did a FaceTime with Dave Mount, who was celebrating his 75th birthday and couldn’t make it in person. The first two events saw everyone from presidents and CEOs from the studios and indies to distributors, studio reps and retailers.”

“I don’t remember why I didn’t do one in 2019, but then the pandemic hit, so we did two Zoom meetings and had about 30 to 40 people attend virtually. I got inspired to bring back the in-person reunion this year because we’ve lost so many of our friends and colleague during the pandemic that I felt it was high time to meeting in person again.”

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Francisco says that when she began her career in home video 40 years ago, “the business was exploding. I worked at Metro Video and we were opening up new stores on a regular basis. We would take the owners through the warehouse with a shopping cart, and pulled titles off the shelf. It didn’t matter what it was; they just wanted more product! Later, when I moved to being a studio rep, the company I worked for was selling ‘D’ type movies, and they were not of great quality — but my creative presentations allowed me to get the product into the distributors and, ultimately, the retailers. Later on in my career I was intrigued by the internet and all that it had to offer and likened it to the beginning of the video industry. It was the Wild, Wild West all over again.”

For more information on the 2023 Video Industry Reunion, visit the event’s Facebook page or contact Francisco at jodiefrancisco@aol.com.

By Killing DVD Rentals, Netflix Is Sending an Elitist Message to Middle America

It’s never wise for an outsider to second guess a business decision. You’re simply not privy to all the factors that led to that decision, so the best you can do is offer a visceral reaction that speaks much more to your own emotions than to any sound business principles.

With that caveat in mind, my immediate reaction to Netflix’s decision to kill the DVD rental business that gave the company its start 25 years ago is that the streamer just issued a loud and clear statement to thousands of consumers who still prefer to rent discs by mail: You don’t matter.

Here on the coast, and especially in Silicon Valley where Netflix’s brain trust comes from, we have a misguided view of American life. We drive Teslas and Mercedes, we send our kids to private schools, and we adore technology.

We stream pretty much everything these days, and we think everyone else does, too.

But the truth is, there are still a lot of people out there who don’t live like we do. And when it comes to entertainment, the humble DVD is still their go-to medium of choice. For some, it’s because they can’t afford half a dozen streaming subscriptions at a monthly cost in excess of $100. For others, it’s because the bandwidth required to stream multiple movies to the same household simply isn’t there. 

Heck, as of August 2021 nearly 30% of rural Americans still had no broadband internet at all, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted that year.

Were it not for Redbox, these DVD renters would be left out in the cold, with nothing to watch except broadcast television and what tiny cable bundles they can afford. Redbox DVD rental plans start at just $10 a month, and for that you get a constant stream of new movies, with no quantity limit.

And it’s not just the budget-conscious consumers in so-called “flyover” country. A friend of mine is the chief emergency room physician at a popular California ski resort. He loves those little red envelopes, partly because he’s been renting DVDs by mail since Netflix began offering the service in 2008 but also because he frequently stays in remote cabins with spotty internet service. 

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As our senior news editor, Erik Gruenwedel, reported, the decision to drop DVD rentals was not unexpected. Netflix stopped including disc rental revenue in its financial reports several years ago, and last year saw rental revenue from DVDs and Blu-ray Discs shrink by more than half, to $100 million.

I guess the numbers no longer panned out, given the cost and manpower needed to service a physical by-mail business. As Netflix said, “Making 2023 our final season allows us to maintain our quality of service through the last day and go out on a high note.”

A high note? To what by my calculations amount to more than 800,000 steady DVD rental customers, it’s more like a low blow. 

Redbox Inks Deal With Dollar General to Add 1,500 Kiosks Over Next Two Years

Redbox, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company, has signed an expanded partnership agreement with Dollar General Corp. to add 1,500 Redbox kiosks over the next two years.

The deal will bring the number of Redbox kiosks at Dollar General to more than 5,000 locations by the end of 2024.

“Dollar General has been an incredibly important strategic partner for Redbox, as we both serve value-conscious customers,” William J. Rouhana Jr., CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, said in a statement. “As the economy continues to challenge and impact consumers, expanding Redbox’s kiosks nationwide with Dollar General will provide millions of Americans additional access to more affordable entertainment.”

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The Redbox kiosk expansion comes when theatrical releases are rapidly increasing, the company noted. In 2023, more than 39 major films are slated to be released, including the latest installments from major franchises such as Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3, Fast X, Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part 1, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. These titles and many others will be available in Redbox kiosks shortly after their theatrical run, the company noted.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment CEO Says Redbox Kiosks Mounting Comeback, Prices $10.8 Million Stock Offering

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, owner operator of Redbox kiosks and branded live-TV streaming service, among other over-the-top video properties, remains bullish on legacy packaged-media rental.

Speaking March 31 on the company’s fiscal call, CEO Bill Rouhana said the revitalized theatrical market in 2023 includes 55 “major event” releases throughout the year, translating into a strong rebound for DVD and Blu-ray Disc movie movie rentals across the company’s 32,000 Redbox kiosks nationwide.

Bill Rouhana

The Feb. 7 release of Disney/Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has quickly emerged as the top-renting kiosk title in the current first quarter. Other popular rentals include Top Gun: Maverick and Black Adam.

Rouhana expects kiosk rental revenue in 2023 to reach 30% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019 as major theatrical releases upgrade from sporadic (three major releases in the past seven months) to weekly. That would result in a revenue run rate of $500 million and $150 million in pre-tax revenue, according to Rouhana.

The executive has high rental hopes for the future DVD rentals of Creed III, Scream VI,  Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts and Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One, among other titles.

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“The frequency of major movie releases is finally here,” he said. “After waiting for years, big movies are back in theaters every week. The flood gates have opened, and the studios are rushing to release as many films as possible on available weekends.”

Rouhana said the average weekly kiosk rentals in March were nearly twice the frequency seen in February. Rentals-per-kiosk-day are up to 40% of 2019 levels.

“And we expect that [frequency] to grow,” he said, alluding to the current theatrical boom impacting kiosks in the second quarter, ending June 30. Rouhana said increased theatrical studio marketing translates into an enhanced disc rental, transactional VOD, and electronic sellthrough (digital purchase).

“We stand to benefit from consumer awareness as the films leave the theatrical window and enter the home entertainment window,” Rouhana said.

The executive said that as studios seek to maximize financial opportunities across original movies, the legacy home entertainment market cannot be ignored.

“As [the studios] realize this, we stand to benefit because we are an important participant in the window, both in physical DVDs and TVOD,” Rouhana said.

Separately, Chicken Soup announced the pricing of a previously disclosed $10.8 million Class A common stock equity offering, including $3.8 million from Chicken Soup for the Soul Holdings. The stock offering is expected to close on or about April 3. The company plans to use the funds for general expenses.

In addition, Chicken Soup announced the rollout of Crackle Connex, an in-house media company selling proprietary and third-party content advertising. The company includes 20 sales rep partners and is being headed by chief revenue officer Philippe Guelton.

‘Jurassic World Dominion’ Returns to Top of Weekly Vudu Chart

Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World Dominion climbed to the top of the chart of the 10 most popular films on Fandango’s transactional digital service Vudu the week ended Aug. 21.

The film, which became available for regular digital purchase Aug. 16 after premium availability, co-stars franchise regulars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, along with cast members Laura Dern, Sam Neil and Jeff Goldblum from the original series. It’s the third in the “Jurassic World” franchise and the sixth in the overall “Jurassic” franchise. In the film, set four years after the destruction of Isla Nubar, dinosaurs roam the Earth again.

Falling from the top spot to No. 2 on the chart was director Baz Luhrmann’s biopic Elvis, which arrived for premium digital rental and purchase Aug. 9. The film, which stars Austin Butler and Tom Hanks, tells the story of Elvis (Butler) through the prism of his complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager Colonel Tom Parker (Hanks).

Falling from No. 2 to No. 3 on the chart was Universal Pictures’ Minions: The Rise of Gru, the latest installment in the Illumination animated series. The film, which tells the story of 12-year-old Gru’s dream to become the world’s greatest supervillain, is available for premium digital purchase and rental.

Debuting at No. 4 on the chart was Paramount’s Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank, which became available for premium digital rental and purchase Aug. 16. In the film, down-on-his-luck hound Hank (voice of Michael Cera) finds himself in a town full of cats who need a hero to defend them from a ruthless villain’s (voice of Ricky Gervais) evil plot to wipe their village off the map. With help from a reluctant teacher (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) to train him, the underdog must assume the role of town samurai and team up with the villagers to save the day. Other voice talent includes Mel Brooks, George Takei, Aasif Mandvi, Gabriel Iglesias, Djimon Hounsou and Michelle Yeoh.

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Debuting at No. 5 on the chart was Paramount’s Orphan: First Kill, which became available for premium digital rental and purchase Aug. 19. The horror film, a prequel to 2009’s Orphan, follows Esther as she escapes from an Estonian psychiatric facility and travels to America by impersonating the missing daughter of a wealthy family.

The only other title to debut on the chart was B.J. Novak’s directorial debut, the murder mystery Vengeance, starring Novak, Issa Rae and Ashton Kutcher. The film is available for premium digital purchase and rental. 

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Aug. 21, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Jurassic World Dominion
  2. Elvis
  3. Minions: The Rise of Gru
  4. Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank
  5. Orphan: First Kill
  6. The Black Phone
  7. Vengeance
  8. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
  9. My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission
  10. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Redbox Entertainment Picks Up Rights to ‘Johnny & Clyde’ Starring Megan Fox

Redbox Entertainment, the original content division of Redbox, has signed a deal for North American rights to Verdi Productions’ action crime film Johnny & Clyde.

Starring Avan Jogia (Zombieland: Double Tap), Ajani Russell (Betty), with Tyson Ritter (Preacher) and Megan Fox (Transformers), and directed by Tom DeNucci (Vault), Johnny & Clyde will premiere in theaters and will be available on the same date in Redbox kiosks and on demand.

The film is a spin on the iconic Bonnie and Clyde story and follows two serial killers (Jogia, Russell) who are madly in love and on a shocking crime spree. They ultimately set their sights on robbing a prosperous casino run by a crime boss, Alana (Fox), and her head of security Guy (Ritter).

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Rounding out the cast are Vanessa Angel (Kingpin), Bai Ling (The Crow), Robert LaSardo (The Mule), Armen Garo (The Departed), Sean Ringgold (American Gangster), Nick Principe (Vault), Brett Azar (Young Rock), Sydney Jenkins (Don’t Look Up) and Charles W. Harris III (Glass). 

Verdi Productions produced and financed the project and VMI Worldwide is handling international sales.

“Fans of dark, gritty action movies are going to love Johnny & Clyde,” Redbox CEO Galen Smith said in a statement. “Tom has created a film that will have fans on the edge of their seats. We’re looking forward to releasing the film later this year.”

“This film will keep fans engaged from beginning till the end — a true thriller with a twist of humor,” stated producer Chad A. Verdi.

Richard Dreyfuss Film ‘Crime Story’ Available for Rental Aug. 13 From Saban and Paramount

Crime Story, starring Academy Award winners Richard Dreyfuss (The Goodbye Girl, Jaws) and Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite, Mimic), will open in select theaters and for digital rental Aug. 13 from Saban Films and Paramount Home Entertainment.

In the film, a man suffering from cancer seeks revenge on the thieves who have destroyed his life.

When ex-mob boss Ben Myers (Dreyfuss) is targeted in a home robbery, he goes on a deadly rampage of vengeance. But with his family caught in the cross hairs, Myers must finally face the consequences of his dark past in this action-packed crime thriller.

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PlayStation Store Dropping Digital Movie and TV Show Sales and Rentals

The Sony PlayStation Store will drop the sale and rental of digital movies and TV shows, beginning Aug. 31. The platform, which has sold and rented studio movies since 2008, cited an increase in the consumer adoption of subscription streaming services and ad-supported VOD services, for the decision.

“At [Sony Interactive Entertainment], we strive to provide the best entertainment experience for PlayStation fans, and that means evolving our offerings as customer needs change,” Vanessa Lee, head of video business for Sony Interactive Entertainment, wrote in a March 2 blog post. “We’ve seen tremendous growth from PlayStation fans using subscription-based and ad-based entertainment streaming services on our consoles.”

The PlayStation Store was not a member of Movies Anywhere, the studio-backed transactional retail platform that includes Vudu, Microsoft’s Movies & TV, DirecTV, Xfinity Store, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play, Verizon, FandangoNow and Row8.

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Users can still access movie and TV content they have purchased through PlayStation Store for on-demand playback on their PS4, PS5 and mobile devices, she wrote.

“We thank our fans for their continued support, and we look forward to further enhancing the entertainment experience on PlayStation,” read the blog.

The move follows the 2019 shuttering of Sony PlayStation Vue, the  online TV platform that in 2015 followed Dish Network’s Sling TV into the nascent streaming market.

Ironically, Sony is pulling out of the TVOD retail market at a time when digital sales and rentals are at an all-time high, thanks in part to the coronavirus pandemic. According to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, digital sales of movies, TVs shows and other filmed content, known as electronic sellthrough, rose 16% to $3 billion. Digital rentals were up 18%, to $2.3 billion.