Dominic Patten contributed to this report.
Amazon is bumping chests yet again with a media giant, this time with the House That Mickey Built. At issue are contract terms for some of Disney’s biggest DVD/Blu Ray titles — including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Maleficent, Muppets Most Wanted and Million Dollar Arm. The titles are finding their way into Amazon competitors such as Best Buy and Target via DVD and Blu-Ray, but they are not being sold on Amazon. Discussions are continuing between Amazon and Disney to resolve the pricing issue.
This comes as an ad signed by more than 900 authors posted an open letter in the form of a two-page ad in Sunday’s edition of the The New York Times protesting Amazon’s treatment of publisher Hachette and writers that Hachette publishes. The publisher also has been locked in a lengthy and loud pricing dispute with the online retailer. The letter says that Amazon has been “directly targeting” Hachette writers with various retaliatory tactics to ratchet up pressure on the publisher.
Among the hundreds of writers who put their names to the 2-page ad are the likes of Stephen King, Pulitzer Prizer winners for fiction Donna Tartt (The Goldfinch) and Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad) and New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell (who is published by Hachette).
This is the third time in just a few months that Amazon has butted heads with a major media entity. Amazon stalemated earlier this year with Warner Bros. over the release of The Lego Movie. When the two behemoths could not come to terms on a pre-order deal, Amazon blocked the title on the site. That situation was later resolved, making The Lego Movie available.
Deadline received confirmation very late Saturday night that a similar contract dispute has erupted with Disney that is preventing the sale or pre-order on Amazon of some of its biggest home entertainment titles. (The titles can be found for sale on Amazon UK but not in the U.S.). The movies are only available on Instant Video in the U.S. The online retail giant played it the same way with Warner Bros. earlier this year, which according to Home Media Magazine (which first noticed the missing Disney titles) marked the first time that Amazon halted orders as a negotiating tactic.
Amazon’s fight with publishing giant Hachette over its e-books has included charges that the online retailer delayed orders, denyied pre-orders on books by popular authors such as J.K. Rowling and others. That prompted several authors to come out publicly against Amazon earlier this year including Malcolm Gladwell, James Patterson, and TV personality Stephen Colbert, who really took them to task on his show The Colbert Report.
In fact, Colbert did a segment that ended by giving Amazon the finger on air and called for a boycott, while Patterson used Book Expo America to air his grievance, saying that Amazon “wants to control book selling, book buying, and even book publishing, and that is a national tragedy … if this is to be the new American way, then maybe it has to be changed, by law if necessary, immediately, if not sooner.”
During this year’s Herb Allen annual conference in Sun Valley Idaho, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told attendees that his business model was here to stay. Period. Hollywood is always looking for its next villian and it seems they found it in Bezos, the real-life Lord Business.
Meanwhile, consumers across the country looking to buy DVDs or Blu-Ray discs for Captain America: The Winter Soldier on Amazon, will be met with only an Instant Video to download. Same for Million Dollar Arm, Maleficent and Muppets Most Wanted. For the last two, Amazon has only a picture with: “Sign up to be notified when this item becomes available.”