Redbox CEO Sees Large Netflix Library As Uninteresting And Irrelevant

Well Redbox CEO Mitch Lowe really knows how to ruffle a cinephile’s feathers.

In a recent video interview with CNN, the head of the video rental magnet took shots at his main competitor, Netflix, and says that not only are they gaining on them, but that their business model is superior.

‘Netflix continues to build up this huge library with a very small percentage of it being relevant and interesting,’ he said. ‘What we do is we make it easier by continuing to put fresh product in our machines and taking out the stuff that is of less interest.’

Yes, because The Spy Next Door is far more interesting than say, Man Bites Dog or the entire run of The X-Files. Personally, this is not only a horrible statement on a conceptual level, it really is kind of offensive. What Lowe is saying here is that he doesn’t think of his audiences as liking anything outside of a film like the aforementioned Jackie Chan masterpiece of garbage, The Spy Next Door. Whatever gets a major DVD release as of that week will be fodder for his boxes, so any film older than the company’s four hour memory span will be left for true DVD rental outlets like Netflix, or even Blockbuster (gasp).

While this interview really rubbed me, and should rub any true lover of film, the wrong way, it’s birthed out of some truth. The average renter of a Redbox DVD isn’t looking for the greatest in say, Italian neo-realism. They just bought groceries, looking for something to watch that night, and see that the Redbox kiosk got some new films. They don’t want to sit down and watch the latest Stan Brackhage box set (even though you really, really should). While I don’t agree with the thesis of his statement, or the fact that the Redbox catalogue of DVDs is at all any better than that of Netflix, there is some sort of basis behind his idea.

The other bit of news from this interview is that the company is currently testing higher pricing packages, including one that would see the initial rental of a DVD at $2, and each night following at $1, so the future of this company sees, of many things, a definite price increase.

Mitch Lowe, I speak for myself and only myself on this, but you suck. I’ll stick with my Wii/Netflix combo, thank you very much. And not lose any sleep about it.

Source: CNN

Joshua Brunsting

Josh is a critic, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, a wrestling nerd, a hip-hop head, a father, a cinephile and a man looking to make his stamp on the world, one word at a time.


  • It's been so many years that I've really cared at all about New Release DVDs that I have a really hard time even relating to the thought process that led Lowe to utter such banalities. But I suppose he's really talking to investors and potential shareholders, glad that he only has to read the IMDb upcoming releases page to order his inventory and put the month-old used discs on eBay to recoup part of his investment.

  • This just in: Mitch Lowe also thinks that libraries have “way too many books”; that the iTunes Music Store “only needs Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and 'Tom Sawyer' by Rush”; and that supermarkets “are filled with so many weird foods that it makes my head hurt — all they need in there is chicken, celery, graham crackers and mayonnaise.”

    And don't get him started on our system of government: “There are HOW MANY representatives? Jeez, that seems like a lot! All you need to run the government is a Dell Dimension 4600 and my dog Bo.” When told that putting a canine in charge of our national infrastructure was demented and possibly psychotic, Lowe angrily protested, “But he's a really smart dog! He shakes hands and everything!”

    Mr. Lowe was in the midst of showing us some of his other entrepreneurial endeavors, such as guitar repellent and tongue clips — “You know, to keep your tongue from falling out of your mouth!” — when he accidentally smothered himself to death with a plastic dry-cleaning bag. He will be missed.

  • This idiotic, lazy, blinkered mentality of Redbox's CEO, vis a vis that only really new mainstream movies are worth seeing, is something that points to the heart of my worries about a future where streaming movies/video on demand replace optical disc formats like DVD and Blu-ray. VOD will never have the space to store all the movies I want to be able to access. NEVER. The increase of Criterion titles available on Netflix's streaming movie selections is admirable, but even that is still inadequate for any real movie buff as a complete alternative to the overwhelmingly larger selection of their dvd rental library. It's already frustrating that the big studios have slowed down their library title releases on DVD (some of them choosing burn on demand discs instead), but a world in which people agree with Mitch Lowe would be something akin to a nightmare where real movie lovers would take on Anthony Perkins' role in Orson Welles' film adaptation of Kafka's “The Trial”.

    Redbox should change their name to 'New Release Wall, Inc.'

    addendum: as I was logging in I noticed WestAnthony's sarcastic comment about libraries having “way too many books”. Good analogy. Let's hope Mitch Lowe never gets to run the Library of Congress…

  • I agree with all of you. I not only think that this is just a completely silly statement to make, but it's also kind of offensive as a film lover. This guy basically thinks that none of us like films that are older than a week or so, and God forbid the occasional black and white, foreign, or even, GASP, silent film. Thats such a garbage statement, founded on no truth, and honestly, Netflix, while maybe not streaming, has all of what Redbox has. Sure, it takes a day or two to get them, but I'll take a massive and era spanning collection of DVDs over Redbox's “New Release Wall Inc.” style collection of films. It's a hilariously ridiculous statement that is both awfully silly, and also really offensive.

  • The thing is, I get it: Redbox's business is new releases (or movies masquerading as such: the 90's Stallone DTVer EYE SEE YOU has been prominently featured on kiosks of late). But it's not an accurate statement about Netflix! At any time, 80% of titles Netflix carries are out for rent. Even if new releases account for most of that 80%, the remaining customers are a market share that Mitch Lowe wouldn't sneeze at. What he's really doing is positioning Redbox as something other than a direct Netflix competitor.

  • Mitch Lowe's comment is simply inaccurate, in that people *do* watch more than just a handful of new releases. But it's accurate in terms of how people use Redbox. With limited ways to browse titles or get a personalized view of the options, people need the instant recognition of recent blockbusters to choose what to watch.

  • Mitch Lowe's comment is simply inaccurate, in that people *do* watch more than just a handful of new releases. But it's accurate in terms of how people use Redbox. With limited ways to browse titles or get a personalized view of the options, people need the instant recognition of recent blockbusters to choose what to watch.