Video Business is reporting that two independent Massachusetts retailers and the trade organization, The National Entertainment Buying Group, have filed suit in Massachusetts Superior Court in an attempt to prevent the Weinstein Co. (and its affiliate Genius Products) from printing notices on their DVDs indicating that only Blockbuster can legally rent them.  The arrangement to make Blockbuster 'the exclusive retailer partner' of the Weinstein Co. was part of a major marketing and stocking initiative between the studio and the country's largest video store chain that was announced last month.


While the agreement has no effect on any retailer selling Weinstein Co. DVDs, according to Genius Products CEO Trevor Drinkwater, 'those DVDs will contain a message that they are for sale only and that they should not be rented.' Under the 'First Sale Doctrine' the Weinstein Co. does not have the right to tell anyone who buys one of their DVDs that they can't rent it, but the retailers who brought the suit are adamant that the message on the DVDs amounts to defamation and could be a detriment to business.


While the Weinstein Company is not exactly a major studio, it produces a lot films such as the Scary Movie franchise and Sin City that are very attractive to niche markets and which do very well as both rental and sell-through DVDs--and Genius Products is a major player in the burgeoning Asian live action category with its Asia Extreme and Dragon Dynasty imprints. 


Though it is easy to see why the Weinstein Co. would want to make a deal with Blockbuster to get more promotion and deeper stocking of its eclectic mix of foreign films, genre movies, and literary efforts--all of these catagories have produced video hits, which with the right combination of luck and promotion have performed much better in the aftermarket than in their theatrical releases--it is also easy to see why independent retailers, many of whom champion those very categories as a way of differenciating themselves from mainstream chains like Blockbuster, would feel betrayed by Weinstein's Blockbuster deal and would resent what they see as over-reaching by the studio in its attempt to control the post-purchase use of its DVDs.