It’s fairly standard practice today for movies to become available for sale on one day, and only become available for rent after several more weeks have passed. For four or so weeks, the only way fans can see the movie is to buy it. For obvious reasons, this 28-day test in delayed gratification succeeds in its mission, which is to help sell more movies. Not long ago, observers predicted that movie viewers would soon have to wait even longer to rent from Netflix, Redbox, Blockbuster, and other services, and it looks like these predictions are already coming true.
All Things D writes that the wait time for Warner Bros. movies is about to double. Blockbuster, Redbox, and Netflix customers will reportedly soon have to wait 56 days after a WB movie goes on sale before there’s a chance to rent.
It’s unclear when the longer wait period will go into effect. It’s likely, though, that Warner Bros. won’t be the only studio that wants the longer sales-rental window in place to help offset disappointing DVD sales. After Warner Bros. first pushed the 28-day lag, studios such as 20th Century Fox and Universal Studios made similar agreements with Redbox and the rest.
The news of a longer wait time comes after an especially tumultuous period in the competitive movie rental industry, during which both Redbox and Netflix raised prices, Netflix announced and soon aborted a DVD spinoff called Qwikster (while watching its membership numbers and stock price plummet), and Blockbuster rolled out a new streaming product, boldly aiming to steal Redbox and Netflix customers away.
[UPDATE: After initially offering no comment, Redbox just released a statement saying: "The current agreement Coinstar has with Warner Bros. is to receive movie titles 28-days after their release. No revised agreements are in place."]