Redbox Wants Your Tweets and Credit Cards to See 'The Hobbit' for Free
Last December, Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) released The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to cinemas all over the world.
The Peter Jackson-directed epic was the start of a new trilogy for Warner Bros., which will continue this Christmas with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and conclude in 2014 with The Hobbit: There and Back Again.
Thus far, the new series has been very profitable for Time Warner. An Unexpected Journey earned an unexpected $1.017 billion at the box office, surpassing the global earnings of the first two films in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Only The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -- which earned $1.119 billion worldwide -- has made more.
The Hobbit's success did not end at the box office. The DVD and Blu-ray sold more than one million copies during the first two weeks at retail, proving that at least some moviegoers were eager for a second viewing.
Now that the film has been available to rent for roughly two months, Redbox Instant -- the streaming video service from Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and Coinstar (NASDAQ: CSTR) -- is giving consumers the chance to see the film for free. Users were alerted of the giveaway this morning when they received an e-mail with the following message:
"If people tweet #redboxinstantgimme, we'll give away The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for zero dollars on May 22."
The two companies launched a new site, GiveMeAMovieNight.com, to promote the giveaway. Thus far, only a small number of individuals have tweeted the necessary message, as evidenced by the company's Tweet meter.
Redbox Instant currently charges $4.99 for an instant rental of The Hobbit. The high-def version goes for $5.99, but users can choose to buy either the standard-def version ($15.50) or HD version ($20) instead. The DVD and Blu-ray versions are also available for rental through the company's kiosk service.
In order to see The Hobbit for free, consumers will need to start by tweeting an unspecified number of messages. According to Redbox's FAQ page, "As long as the word is spread, we will unlock the rental, there is no minimum requirement."
That vague condition means that tweeters should get to see The Hobbit even if this campaign turned out to be a flop.
Before they can start streaming the film, however, viewers will be required to sign up for a Redbox Instant account.
"…You do not have to be a subscriber, but a Redbox Instant by Verizon account will be required," Redbox wrote on its FAQ page. "A payment card is required to set up a Redbox Instant by Verizon account, but your card will not be charged for the rental of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey during the offer period."
After that has been taken care of, Redbox wants The Hobbit fans to know that some restrictions do apply:
"There are 3 time periods associated with this offer. You must rent the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey between 8:00 a.m. ET on 5/22/2013 and 12 a.m. ET on 5/23/2013. From this date you have 30 days to start watching the movie. Once you start watching it, you have 48 hours to view the movie as many times and on as many supported registered devices as you choose."
Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ
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