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by Mike Zazaian September 23, 2006 - 5:37pm, No Comments

A Wal-Mart retail store

In the latest strong-arm tactics from the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart is threatening movie studios against selling their movies to Apple for it’s new video download service.

When Apple opened up its new iTunes video download store on September 12th, it sported only 70 available films, all from the Disney brand. Priced at a super-low $14.99 for new releases, $12.99 for pre-orders, Apple’s new store offers much more competitive prices than Amazon’s Unbox, but was limited by the paltry selection. But as Steve Jobs tries to woo other Studios to increase movie download revenues, retail behemoth Wal-Mart has promised to stand in his way.

With a substantial amount of their revenue from DVD sales, Wal-Mart is threatened by Apple’s video download service, which promises to sell DVDs more cheaply than Wal-Mart’s retail bargains. As such, Wal-Mart’s David Porter, the executive in charge of DVD sales, made his rounds to movie studios last week with some serious anti-Apple messages. While not much is known as to what exactly went on inside those meetings, Porter was quoted as saying there would be serious ramifications for studios who choose to partner with Apple. According to an anonymous studio executive:

They threatened to hurt us in terms of buying less products.

As the leading DVD seller in the world, Wal-Mart rakes in about $17 billion annually in DVD sales alone, or about 40% of all studio DVD sales. With numbers like those it’s easy to see why Wal-Mart is taking such a hardline approach against Apple, and why the studios are willing to take such aggression. When reached for comment about their actions, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman remarked:

We intend to meet our customer needs whether they choose to purchase movies online or in the store and will continue to work hard with all our partners to do that.

I suppose for Wal-Mart the term working hard means threatening anyone to maintain a bottom line, and keeping up profits by any means necessary. You’d think there’d be a dictionary lying around one of their 5,000 locations.

[via New York Post]