IFC Seals Devilish Pact With Blockbuster

IFC has inked a “devilish” multi-year exclusive distribution deal with Blockbuster, says Chicago Sun-Times blogger and editor of RogerEbert.com, Jim Emerson.

From IFC/Blockbuster’s press release:

Under the terms of the agreement, IFC and Blockbuster will share rental revenues from IFC titles. Blockbuster will have an exclusive 60-day rental window, including both the physical and digital rental distribution channels, for each title as it becomes available. During this period no title will be available on a retail basis in any format. After the 60-day period, the IFC titles will be available on a non-exclusive basis both for retail and digital distribution. However, Blockbuster will retain the exclusive physical rental distribution rights for IFC titles for three years after each street date.

Considering Blockbusters’ draconian NC-17 policy, the retailer seems like an odd choice for IFC, says Emerson:

If you were to check into the availability of films on DVD at Blockbuster Online, among the titles you will not find are “Crash” (David Cronenberg,1997), “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” (Russ Meyer, 1970 — screenplay by Roger Ebert), or “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” (Kirby Dick, 2006), an IFC Films release. They’re not even listed, because they were rated NC-17 and Blockbuster will not make such films available through their stores or online service. (See David Edelstein’s article, “Blame Blockbuster, not the MPAA.)

You will also not find the theatrical releases of Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution,” Takeshi Miike’s “Audition,” John Waters’ “A Dirty Shame,” Peter Jackson’s “Dead-Alive,” Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Dreamers,” Abel Ferrara’s “The Bad Lieutenant” and many other films that are only available in cut versions (in some cases heavily cut versions) that have been re-submitted to the MPAA for an R rating just so they could make it onto Blockbuster’s shelves during their first few months of release. You tell me if 2001’s “L.I.E.,” directed by Michael Cuesta (“Six Feet Under,” “Dexter”), starring Paul Dano and Brian Cox, is available from Blockbuster Online. There’s no box art, no description, no credits info, but there’s a page for it here.

Does IFC think its core audience doesn’t care about the integrity (or lack thereof) with which a company like Blockbuster treats the movies it rents and sells? I mean, if they don’t, who does? You’d think the core IFC constituency would be precisely the “movie consumers” who, in principle, would not patronize a place like Blockbuster, any more than they would order a Domino’s pizza.

A joint-press release from Blockbuster and IFC is strikingly hilarious:

“We’re delighted to join with BLOCKBUSTER as we continue our mission of making independent film available to the widest possible audience,” said Lisa Schwartz, IFC’s senior vice president of sales and business development.

Yes, because exclusivity agreements always make things available to a wider audience. Oh wait, maybe she was calling Blockbuster members fat. That’s just rude and uncalled for.

Is Blockbuster trying to start a Netflix/Blockbuster format war?

IFC signs pact with devil Blockbuster [Scanners Blog]
IFC Entertainment and BLOCKBUSTER Sign Two-Year Exclusive Rental Deal (Press Release) [Yahoo!]
(Photo:medialian1)