This is part 1 of a 2 part series in which I talk to redbox Director of Product Eric Litynski about how independent filmmakers can think inside the box with redbox. This part focuses on the minimum requirements for a film to be included, their target market and the most popular films on redbox. In part 2, Eric gives some candid advice to independent filmmakers and the redbox’s online distribution plans.
redbox, I think has come up with a great formula which has no doubt attributed to its success. This despite having to acquiesce to movie studios with a 28 day window. If you’ll indulge my hearkening back to my math-intensive roots here’s my take on what it is:
Cv + RP – Cm = $
Let me explain. Cv, where Cv stands for Convenience: it can be found neighborhood grocery stores, pharmacies and major retailers. Over 23,000 of them in fact. You get something that you want at a place you have to go to anyway. RP, where RP stands for Right Price They found a great price point at a dollar a day. Cm, where Cm stands for Commitment. I mean do you really need another commitment? Another userid/password/subscription to manage? Just walk up to the kiosk, get your movie and you’re done.
So this is all good for redbox and its consumers, but what about you independent filmmakers? How easy is it for you to tap into the redbox market with your film? What is the redbox market anyway? Eric Litynski, Director of Product for redbox answers these questions and more below. He gives some ‘back to basics’ advice for filmmakers too.
BTBO: Could you talk a little bit about what your role is at redbox?
Eric: I am the director of purchasing/content acquisition. My role is that I report to the Vice President of Purchasing. I am in charge of a variety of things: logistics, supply chains for the product — a little bit also in helping to guide the selection of the content for our redboxes. As well as estimating the financial performance and rents, etc. As well as finding ways to leverage and market the content to our consumers through our marketing team.
BTBO: What are the minimum requirements that a film must meet in order to be picked up by redbox?
Eric: The only requirements that we really require of a film is, other than family friendly content, the film should be rated by the MPAA, particularly with films that have sexual themes or violence. You want to make sure that the MPAA certification is there, because we have a relationship with our various clients, retailers and we want to respect their property and their customers. We are not only a representative of redbox, but we also sort of represent that retailer to the customer, if it’s in their store. We’re a guest in their store, I guess I should say. So other than that, the film can be a theatrical film. It can be a direct video film. It doesn’t really have to have anything in terms of a formal requirement. It doesn’t have to have seen the light of day, previously.
BTBO: So, what are you looking for in films ?
Eric: Well what we’re looking for is different comparatively to when I was at Blockbuster, because we have more limited space. The demographics of our customers I would say are your every day average consumer, people who may or may not have families, but they work, they go to school. We have moms. A lot of our locations are places like grocery stores, Wal-Marts, McDonald’s, etc. So the people that are frequenting those places. It’s those people that are somewhat cost conscious. They may also use the service like Netflix, but not always.
So, some of them may be some film lovers — some of them may be just looking for the latest hits. So because of our limited space, we try to focus on theatrical films, the films that are on people’s radar the most. Then films that would help fill out genres that would be appealing to people. Also, we want to make sure that we pick the films that… well we have limited space …for an independent drama, or horror, or suspense film. (We) Pick those films that we feel have the broadest customer appeal. And it’s not always reliant upon the content of the film so much as it is related (to the) cover box or the cover image is heavily considered, because that’s what catches the customer’s attention, a lot like a movie poster, would. Is that a long answer for a short question?
BTBO: No. No. That’s actually very, very good to know.
BTBO: Okay, so have you noticed anything that contributes to the success of a film on redbox that you can share with filmmakers?
Eric: If you’re an independent filmmaker and you want to make a romantic comedy; romantic comedies are hard to make work from our rental perspective, even if they’re “well done”. A lot of times those films need some sort of cast, a very recognizable cast, you know like a Sandra Bullock, even someone like a Meg Ryan, someone who’s had some big film or entertainment cache as opposed to; if you’ve got some sort of indie actors and actresses that don’t have a lot of exposure to the public. Whereas something like a horror film, or a suspense film, can be very successful about having any sort of cast involved. But, if it looks intriguing to the customer; those people will go to that. People always like a good suspense film, a good action film, a good horror film and family films too. If the family film is well made, and it’s appealing visually to the eyes over the cover box; those films can also be very successful for us.
BTBO: Okay. It’s the same content in all of the kiosks, the content is identical?
Eric: Well I would say for the most part, we have a similar selection of titles in most of the redboxes, although we have been trying to tailor the boxes a little bit more towards demographics of a particular trade area. So, we have done some product selections for areas that might have a more African-American centered population, or a Hispanic population. But, for the most part, the boxes are fairly similar right now in their product selection.
BTBO: Do you accept films directly from independent filmmakers? Or, do you only work with distributors?
To see the answer to this question check out Part 2, coming tomorrow.