One of the primary goals of the bankruptcy process, which the company said it hopes would last about five months, would be to escape costly leases for some of its worst-performing stores. Though Blockbuster hasn’t decided exactly how many locations it would seek to shutter as part of a bankruptcy, executives told the major studios it is looking at between 500 and 800. Blockbuster closed nearly 1,000 stores in the last year alone, a reflection of consumers’ rapidly declining interest in renting DVDs from retail locations now that they can rent them from ubiquitous kiosks in grocery stores, in the mail, or via the Internet.
If it successfully exits bankruptcy, Blockbuster has told Hollywood studios, it hopes to grow through non-retail initiatives. Kiosk manufacturer NCR Corp., for instance, has already deployed about 6,000 Blockbuster-branded kiosks that, like Redbox, rent DVDs for $1 per night. The company also hopes to expand its presence in the still nascent digital distribution space, through which a growing number of customers are downloading or streaming movies on computers, Internet-connected televisions, and mobile phones.
But there are still some issues to be resolved, including the company’s desire to continue offering movies from all the studios on the same day they go on sale. Fox, Universal and Warner have all instituted a 28-day window on rentals through Redbox and Netflix. The studios would likely be protected from any significant losses on payments Blockbuster might owe them at the time it files for bankruptcy under the proposed plan. But they would lose revenue from any stores shut down.
So basically Blockbuster can't pay the rent and wants to declare bankruptcy so it can leverage its reputation (!) to come up with a business model to challenge the likes of Apple, Netflix and Redbox. Good luck with that.