Redbox, Now the Only Disc Rental Game in Town, Gears Up for ‘Barbie’ Release Oct. 17

Redbox is pulling out all the stops to make sure customers know they can rent the red-hot Barbie movie the day it’s released.

Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment has slated Barbie for DVD and Blu-ray release Oct. 17.

Yes, the release is aimed at buyers, but as the largest disc-rental operation in the country now that Netflix has shuttered its DVD.com subsidiary, the Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment-owned business is jumping on the chance to boost activity at its 29,000 rental kiosks around the country.

Consumers can use the Redbox app to easily locate the nearest Redbox kiosk and reserve Barbie. The Redbox app is available on a wide range of devices, including iOS, Android, Roku, Samsung TVs, Vizio, and many others. The app also gives viewers access to thousands of free movies and TV series, nearly 180 free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels, and the ability to rent or buy movies transactionally on select devices.

“Our customers have been anxiously waiting for Barbie to be available on DVD and Blu-ray, and we’re delighted it will soon be in our kiosks nationwide,” said William J. Rouhana, chairman and CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. “Blu-ray discs provide the best sound and picture quality on a large TV screen, and there will be no better way to enjoy the amazing visuals and music in the film … at an inexpensive price, along with bonus content.”

Since buying Redbox in August 2022, Chicken Soup has been transforming the Redbox app into a “super app” that also gives viewers access to thousands of free movies and TV series, nearly 180 free ad-supported television (FAST) channels, and the ability to rent or buy movies digitally.

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Barbie — which has earned a whopping $1.4 billion at the global box office — stars Margie Robbie as the iconic doll in a comedy fantasy about her existential crisis. The film is directed by Greta Gerwig.

Chicken Soup in ‘Active Discussions’ About Possible Sale, Seeks to Woo Former Netflix Disc Renters

The future of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inc., bogged down by debt from its August 2022 acquisition of Redbox, may soon become clear.

The company is in “active discussions” about a possible asset or strategic sale, according to a Sept. 28 8K filing

At the same time, Chicken Soup is looking for ways to improve cash flow and working capital, including further cost reductions and factoring receivables to raise cash. According to the 8K, “the company has authorization from its board to factor up to an aggregate of $55 million in receivables, with any factoring discount limited to 5%.” In addition, the 8K says, Chicken Soup for the Soul may continue to sell securities.

The company on Sept. 22 was notified by the SEC that its stock is in danger of being delisted by NASDAQ because for the preceding 30 days shares in the company have been selling for less than the $1 per share minimum.  The company has been given 180 days, until March 20, 2024, to “regain compliance,” according to the filing.

Last week, Chicken Soup chairman and CEO William J. Rouhana announced plans to capitalize on Netflix shutting down its disc business through a PR blitz and media campaign aimed at converting former Netflix DVD and Blu-ray Disc renters into Redbox customers.

A social media campaign on X (formerly Twitter) called “Show Us Your Red Envelope” promises a free movie rental to fans who share photos of their Netflix rental envelopes. The company also is beefing up catalog and niche titles in its kiosks.

Rouhana told Media Play News he’s hoping business at Redbox’s 29,000 kiosks will pick up now that Netflix is out of the picture and Redbox is the only national DVD and Blu-ray Disc rental dealer. He’s also expecting a lift once box office heavyweight Barbie and Oppenheimer become available on disc. 

Barbie will be out on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD on Oct. 17. Oppenheimer has no official disc release date, but online sources say the film will likely be out in late November.

CEO: Redbox Looking to Increase Kiosk Footprint as Daily DVD Rental Price Rises to $2.25

Redbox ended the most-recent fiscal period (ended Sept. 30) with 34,000 legacy kiosks renting DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies. While the brand further transitions to digital distribution, including transactional VOD and free ad-supported streaming television, it hasn’t turned a cold shoulder to packaged, according to William J. Rouhana Jr., CEO of parent company Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment.

Speaking on the Nov. 14 fiscal call, Rouhana said that major studio movies remain the key rental driver at Redbox kiosks — a reality that has been undermined since the pandemic began in early 2020. With limited high-profile theatrical releases over the past two years, Rouhana admitted frustration with the lack of marquee movie titles available to kiosks over the summer — a trend he thinks is changing.

“It won’t come as a surprise that the outsized theatrical hits … Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick as it works its way through our distribution windows, will have an outsized impact on the number of [disc] rentals in our kiosks in the fourth quarter,” Rouhana said.

Indeed, Maverick remains Redbox’s top-grossing transactional VOD release in the platform’s brief history, while the average number of DVD rentals increased 25% largely due to the movie. At the same time, Redbox saw an average growth in disc rentals in October, a trend Rouhana said has continued into November following Maverick DVD release on Halloween.

The executive contends Redbox kiosks remain a viable business with the right retail partner. The company plans to add 1,000 kiosks with its most-profitable retail partner going forward. Redbox raised the nightly DVD movie rental fee from $1.99 to $2.25, effective Nov. 1. In the third fiscal quarter (ended Sept. 30), kiosk gross operating margins after product costs was 59%.

“We need consistent, big-title movie releases to get back to historical [disc rental] levels,” Rouhana said. “That consistency, particularly if you look at exhibitor results, is not yet where we want it. However, it’s evident the industry is trending back in a positive direction with more studios recommitting to the theatrical window.”

While Rouhana doesn’t believe the kiosk rental business can return to pre-pandemic levels, he said he would be satisfied achieving 50% of Redbox’s 2019 disc rental revenue. Redbox is now the sole revenue source for studios when it comes to retail kiosk disc rentals, according to Rouhana. And with Netflix still generating about $35 million in legacy by-mail DVD rental revenue in its most-recent fiscal period, the distribution channel still has legs.

“You can’t underplay how important that is,” he said.

Crackle Original Basketball Docuseries ‘On Point’ Tallies 12 Million Views

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inc., one of the largest operators of streaming advertising-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) networks, on April 8 said the Crackle Original basketball docuseries “On Point” has gathered more than 12 million views since its Feb. 13 launch.

The 10-part docuseries offers a behind-the-scenes look at the world of prep and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball, a proving ground for top NBA players for the last several decades. “On Point” spotlights Romeo Langford, now a member of the NBA’s Boston Celtics and Scottie Lewis, now at the University of Florida, among other talented young players. Notable appearances in the series include NBA stars Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Zion Williamson.

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“We are delighted with the tremendous viewer response to this series,” said William J. Rouhana Jr., chairman and CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. “With sports seasons being cut short and cancelled altogether, ‘On Point’ has been a great option for fans to learn more about the stories behind the stars they follow on the court.”

Crackle is free to watch and available on all top streaming platforms, connected TVs, game consoles, Crackle mobile apps (iOS, Android) and at Crackle.com. The series was produced by Peter Berg and Film 45 as well as by Complex Networks and is distributed by Screen Media Ventures.