Netflix Delays Universal and Fox New Releases, including Avatar

If you're hoping to rent a copy of "Avatar" through Netflix when the hit movie comes to

DVD this month, keep waiting.

Netflix has signed deals with Universal Studios and 20th Century Fox that will delay the arrival of new releases by 28 days. The mail-order rental service already has a similar agreement with Warner Bros.

"Avatar," will be the first new DVD release from 20th Century Fox affected by the deal. The DVD is due on April 22, but won't arrive on Netflix until May 20. Universal's deal will kick off with "It's Complicated," which will arrive on May 25 instead of April 27.

On the bright side, the deal will boost Netflix's catalog of streaming online video, which is free to subscribers. Notably, Fox will bring several TV shows to the streaming service, including all but the current seasons of "24" and "Lie to Me," and the entire series of "Arrested Development" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." The agreement with Universal brings such films as "Gosford Park," "Being John Malkovich" and "Do the Right Thing."

Movie studios are interested in deals like this as they try to protect DVD sales and video on-demand purchases. However, Blockbuster has agreements with Warner, Universal and Fox to get movie rentals on the day of DVD release, even for its mail-order and online services. Universal and Fox were given first lien on Blockbuster's 459 stores in Canada in exchange, The Wall Street Journal reports. Next time you see Blockbuster touting how its the only place to get new releases, as it has with Warners' "Sherlock Holmes," deals like these are the reason why.

If you're a Netflix subscriber, your feelings about this deal will of course depend on how you use the service. Personally, instant streaming was the main lure for me, not new releases. I'd much rather have the entire season of "Arrested Development" available on my iPad and Xbox 360 than watch a 2D version of "Avatar" on DVD. And I've been meaning to finally watch "Being John Malkovich" for a long time. Can't say the same thing about "It's Complicated."

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