Amazon Picks Fight With Disney, Stops Pre-Orders Of Studio’s DVDs, Blu-Rays

Upcoming Disney titles, like Maleficent, are only available for pre-order as digital downloads. DVD and Blu-ray versions only offer to notify customers when the titles will be available for sale.

Upcoming Disney titles, like Maleficent, are only available for pre-order as digital downloads. DVD and Blu-ray versions only offer to notify customers when the titles will be available for sale.

Add another big media name to Amazon’s “enemy” list. Already this year, the online retail giant has picked fights with book biggie Hachette and home video superpower Warner, refusing to take pre-orders for these companies’ highly expected new releases while battling it out in boardrooms over a few pennies on the wholesale price. Now Amazon is using the same tactic to fight an even bigger media monster — Disney.

The Wall Street Journal points out that Amazon customers can no longer put in pre-orders for disc versions of upcoming Disney titles like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Maleficent directly from Amazon, though the site continues to sell pre-orders for digital downloads and rentals of new Disney titles.

Neither company is commenting on the pulled pre-orders, but since competitors like Walmart are still taking pre-orders for Disney titles and the release dates of these discs has not been delayed, this is not a manufacturing or inventory issue, but points directly to a pricing standoff between Amazon and the House of Mickey, which not only controls Disney-branded titles but also ABC, ESPN, and others.

Amazon has always been aggressive in the wholesale prices it demands from book publishers and movie studios, especially as book- and record-store mega-chains have faltered, leaving content publishers with fewer major retail outlets on which to unload massive amounts of books and discs.

Its first headline-making effort at strong-arming a publisher took place in early 2010, when it first stopped selling and then jacked up the price on books from publisher Macmillan.

Later that same year, it got into a similar fight with Penguin over Amazon’s insistence on selling ebooks at $9.99.

Apple took advantage of publishers’ hatred for Amazon, convincing the largest among them to conspire to all switch to a new pricing model that allowed the publisher to determine the retail price rather than Amazon.

Unfortunately, it also led to higher and sometimes bizarre pricing for ebooks. It also resulted in a lawsuit by the federal government, alleging collusion and anticompetitive behavior by Apple and the country’s biggest publishers, including Hachette, Macmillan, and Penguin.

All the publishers settled, providing some refunds to customers and returning to the old pricing model while maintaining they did nothing illegal. Apple insisted on a trial. In the end, the court determined that Apple had indeed conspired with the publishers. The electronics company has been fighting that decision.

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  1. SingleMaltGeek says:

    Disney is one of the only studios left not to join the Ultraviolet consortium that allows consumers to use their digital licenses on many different players, like smart TVs and other home theater devices, and also portable devices like phones and tablets. I am predisposed to think they’re just being jerkwads, but I’ll have to read more about the dispute.

  2. webalias says:

    I have Amazon Prime, so obviously I think Amazon is a good place to shop — for some things. But not DVDs or blu-rays. If you go to any of several price-comparison sites for DVDs on the web, you’ll see that Amazon doesn’t typically have the lowest price on DVDs or blu-rays — now and then there’s a really cheap “deal-of-the-day” — but in most cases you can do better. Yesterday I picked up the Criterion Collection blu-ray of Charade for 19.95 at Costco; it’s 26.25 at Amazon. In addition, Amazon frequently doesn’t pack their blu-rays, DVDs (or even books) all that well these days; I’ve had several blu-rays that were shipped in flimsy paper envelopes and arrived with the cases damaged. Late delivery is increasingly another problem with Amazon — paying for two-day shipping doesn’t mean you’ll get it. As a result, I no longer consider Amazon a good choice for such media.

    • GnRJosh says:

      On that last point, you really can’t put the blame on Amazon if it left their facilities and then got stuck with the carrier. Now, if they promised 2-day shipping and the item still hasn’t left the facility a week later…..then yeah, you got a point. But I’ve never had an issue with shipping from Amazon….it’s the Marketplace partners that tend to muck things up……..and don’t get me started on items shipping from Hong Kong.

  3. MaraJade says:

    When we say that Amazon is ‘no longer’ accepting pre-orders, I’d like to point out that Amazon has never accepted pre-orders for Captain America. I am an Amazon customer and Prime member, and I buy almost everything I can on the site (free shipping!). I have been trying to pre-order Captain America since around the time it was released in theaters, checking regularly, and I can tell you that there was never a time that I was able to pre-order this movie there. Eventually, I just went to Target.