Blockbuster (s BBI) has signed deals with two more Hollywood studios that could give it a head start on new release rentals — as well as “enhanced payment terms” that could keep it alive for just a bit longer. Sony Pictures Entertainment (s SNE) and 20th Century Fox (s NWS) are at the heart of today’s news, which, combined with an earlier deal struck with Warner Bros. (s TWX), will extend Blockbuster’s ability to rent movies on the same day and date that they go on sale at other retailers.
The deals come as studios seek to push back the availability of new releases through Netflix‘s (s NFLX) subscription rental service and through Redbox’s (s CSTR) $1-a-day rental kiosks. Netflix struck a deal with Warner Bros. in January in which it agreed to hold off shipping new releases for 28 days after they’re available in stores in exchange for more titles for its online streaming service. Meanwhile, Redbox has signed off on similar deals with Warner Bros., Sony, Disney (s dis), Lions Gate (s lgf) and Paramount.
However, unlike Warner Bros., which announced its deal with Blockbuster two weeks ago, 20th Century Fox hasn’t inked agreements with Netflix or Redbox that would delay their own new release windows. In fact, Redbox is still in the midst of a legal battle with Fox, after the studio sought to keep retailers from selling DVDs that the company could put into its kiosks.
In addition to negotiating day-and-date access to new releases, Blockbuster has agreed to new payment terms in exchange for a first lien on its Canadian assets. Designed to help the DVD rental company with its recpaitalization efforts as it tries to cut $200 million in costs and avoid bankruptcy, the deal will allow Blockbuster Canada continue to operate as usual.
While the new studio deals could help breathe new life into Blockbuster’s dying DVD rental business, it might be too little, too late. The company is in the midst of a restructuring effort and has already warned shareholders that it could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
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