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Disney has been involved in an ongoing legal battle with Redbox for months regarding the latter's sale of download codes to Disney films. Now, the case takes another turn as one of Disney biggest hits ever gets ready to debut on Blu-ray. Following a judge's rejection of Disney's request for a preliminary injunction, the studio has now amended their complaint following changes made to their digital license agreement in order to meet the judge's concerns. The fact that this step has been taken now, shortly after the release date of Black Panther on Blu-ray was announced, is likely not a coincidence.
Disney's amended complaint was filed on Monday and on Tuesday Disney announced that Black Panther will be released for the home market in May. Considering the fact that Black Panther is a billion dollar franchise already, Disney clearly sees that the film is likely going to do very well on the sales front as people who flocked to the theaters, in many cases probably more than once, are very likely to want to own the movie once it becomes available. As such, they want to clamp down on Red Box's practice of selling digital download codes to films at prices lower than what other outlets are charging.
Disney filed suit against Redbox in December claiming that Redbox's practice of purchasing Blu-Ray "combo packs" and selling the included digital download separately to consumers was a violation of Disney's copyright. Thus far the legal rulings have mostly sided with Redbox as early decisions have found a misuse of copyright on the part of Disney. This latest move by Disney involves them rewording the language attached to the digital codes which states that only those who purchase the combo pack have the right to redeem the included digital code.
While Disney may want to get this issue settled before the release of Black Panther, it looks like that likely won't happen. The physical release of Black Panther was recently announced to be May 15, however, according to Deadline, the hearing to rule on Disney's amended complaint is currently set for early June. Since the judge declined to order an injunction temporarily halting Redbox from selling Disney's download codes while the case was in litigation, it's a pretty safe bet that Redbox will be looking to sell codes to Black Panther right up until they're told they can't, if that even happens.
In response to Disney's amendment, Redbox has amended their own complaint in the lawsuit, claiming that, among other things, that since the injunction against Redbox was denied, Other steps have been taken to prevent Redbox from obtaining Disney films, including limiting Redbox's ability to purchase bulk quantities of films from retailers. In the complaint, which was provided to CinemaBlend by Redbox, The rental company calls the conduct of Disney "anticompetitive and otherwise unfair."
Clearly, Disney is taking a financial hit here because people who purchase discounted codes from Redbox aren't giving any money to Disney, though they also aren't giving any money to Amazon or iTunes or any of the other retailers where one can purchase Disney movies digitally for full price. It's likely Disney won't be giving up on this case, even if the judge doesn't ultimately side with them, though it's unclear what the next step would be.