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David Poland

By David Poland

Gawker Hoaxed On Netflix Pulling The Bodyguard Story?

Gawker is running a story called, “Studios Allegedly Pull All Whitney Houston Titles from Netflix to ‘Make More Money off the DVD Sales’.” The first sign that they really haven’t done much legwork is the “allegedly” in the title.

Then, one should consider the fact that WB, the distributor of The Bodyguard, does NOT have a deal with Netflix for streaming. So how would The Bodyguard be on Netflix in the first place? Of the top 10 films released by WB in 1992, the year the studio released The Bodyguard, only Lethal Weapon 3 is currently streaming on Netflix. How? Through Starz. This is also the ONLY way that The Bodyguard would be streaming on Netflix. And as with all Starz titles, the streaming window is tied to the cable play window.

Starz does run Black History Month programming this month, which includes WB titles The Color Purple and Rosewood. Did it include The Bodyguard sometime this month? Maybe. But the two WB movies that are playing this week are NOT streaming on Netflix. Maybe they will on Feb 22, the day they are scheduled to run on the cable net. But not now.

Waiting To Exhale is also bouncing around as a Whitney title still streaming on Netflix. Via Starz. Fox, which released that film, also doesn’t have a Netflix streaming deal. And of their 1995 top ten titles – the year Exhale came out – four are streaming via Starz, one through a deal with Saban, and mysteriously, Die Hard 3. But when Starz goes, so will the four Starz streaming titles.

Looking at the source of the story… complaints in the comments on the The Bodyguard page on Netflix, the only specific claim of a date on which the film was available for streaming was October of last year. There is no sign of the film on Starz schedule for that month, so I don’t know how it would have been streaming through them. There may have been some sort of WB streaming deal that had some play dates in 2011… but there is no indication of one now.

This is not to say that WB is not taking advantage of Whitney Houston’s death to sell stuff, The film is now available on VOD on DirecTV… and I can’t imagine that it was before last week. Digitial sales have been strong. Etc.

But this story has every earmark of being a hoax… perhaps even an honestly started hoax. People think Netflix streams everything. But if it’s a WB movie, your memory is – in all but Starz cases… and only for another week or so – either old or just wrong.

ADD: By the way… if there was a streaming deal in place, it is possible, but highly unlikely that there would be a death clause allowing movies to be pulled at will at a moment like this. Netflix plays a ton for streaming. This is the rare moment where there is real value that would accrue to them… that is, if they had a deal to stream The Bodyguard… of which there is no evidence.

ADD, 5:03p – It turn out that the source of the Gawker story retracted his story at 3:05p today. Two hours later, Gawker is running neither the retraction or the Netflix denials. So maybe they weren’t hoaxed… maybe they didn’t care about spreading false information around the web, where hundreds of sites ran the bad info as fact.

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7 Responses to “Gawker Hoaxed On Netflix Pulling The Bodyguard Story?”

  1. hcat says:

    Sneak peak at tomorrow’s story:

    The Sun set today, just as the Starz deal will soon set on Netflix. 🙂

  2. Hallick says:

    I don’t really know squat about Journalism 101, so I apologize in advance if this comes off as naive, but did it never occur to Dan McDermott to contact the rights holders and get their side of this pulling her movies from Netflix in order to make more money off of the DVDs claim? It seems like the next logical step, as well as the next ethical step, since you’re about to make them look like money grubbing ghouls on the basis of a comments section and one Netflix rep who said he/she spoke to a couple of supervisors who agreed with the post-mortem story. That sounds pretty simple and undemanding, right?

    No matter how humbly you apologize afterwards, if you run with something like this you’re still a gun-jumping half-asser that should probably go spend a few days cracking a remedial J-school textbook before you write anymore “news” for a while.

  3. Hallick says:

    “Two hours later, Gawker is running neither the retraction or the Netflix denials. So maybe they weren’t hoaxed… maybe they didn’t care about spreading false information around the web, where hundreds of sites ran the bad info as fact.”

    If your motto is “today’s gossip is tomorrow’s news” then you don’t have to bother with nonsense like retractions and corrections. You let yourself off the hook just by dint of the fact you call it “gossip” in the first place. If gossip’s your stock in trade, it’s unreliable by definition, and your shit’s bulletproof against people demanding something like responsible and accurate information.

  4. Bitplayer says:

    This movie is on Amazon streaming. It’s surprising how much overlap there is between the two services.

  5. storymark says:

    I have a couple Warner Bros movies in my instant queue – the first Lethal Weapon and Interview with the Vampire, and neither is through StarzPlay.

  6. hcat says:

    There are a number of Fox and Searchlight films streaming that are not through Starz. I believe when they made the deal for Fox Television product, a rotating stock of Fox catalog titles was also included.

  7. hcat says:

    So of course I have seen this story a few times now in various forms. And you know whose name is never mentioned? Warners. I know putting Netflix in the headline gets more google alerts and hits but they really come off as the bad guy here when they are making nothing on the percieved DVD strategy.

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