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Mark's Video offers movie rentals for 99¢

PHYSICAL: Chain owned by Hollywood Video founder Wattles

By Jennifer Netherby -- Video Business, 10/15/2009

OCT. 15 | PHYSICAL: A year after Hollywood Video founder Mark Wattles was forced to drop the Hollywood name from 20 video stores he retained after selling the chain to Movie Gallery, his chain has a new name and an aggressive business model with Redbox prices.

Wattles owns Mark’s Video and GameTag stores in Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona. The first thing renters to Mark’s Video stores notice are signs hyping new DVD releases for rent for 99¢ a night, competitive with any kiosk but with far more choices. Blu-ray movies rent for $1.49, catalog films for 49¢. Every movie in the store also is priced for sale, with new releases tagged around $19.99 at the Beaverton, Ore., store Video Business visited.

Unlike Redbox, Mark’s has a large selection of new releases, independent films, catalog and foreign films.

Last year, Wattles told The Oregonian that he planned to open more stores as part of his Mark’s Video and GameTag chain.

GameTag appears to be offering franchise opportunities. The phone directory at Wattles Game Systems lists an option for franchise opportunities, and GameTag is listed with details on a Web site devoted to franchise opportunities.

Execs with Wattles Game Systems, the company operating Mark’s Video and GameTag stores, and with Wattles Capital Management didn’t return calls to talk about the strategy or their plans.

Wattles kept the 20 stores after selling Hollywood Video to Movie Gallery in 2005. Originally, his Boards Video company licensed the Hollywood name from Gallery, paying $900,000 annually to Gallery to do so. But when Movie Gallery filed for bankruptcy in 2007, it sought to end the agreement with Wattles. A judge granted the request, ruling that Wattles had until Aug. 31, 2008, to change the name and distinguish the stores from Hollywood Video. Wattles missed the deadline and is still being sued by Gallery, which wants all likeness to Hollywood Video removed from the new Mark’s Video and GameTag stores.

In its complaint, Movie Gallery notes that in addition to its trademark for the Hollywood Video name and logo, with the name in front of the Hollywood Hills, the company also has a trademark on its store design, which includes such features as bold purples, reds and gold paint and movie quotes on the walls.

Inside a Mark’s Video in Beaverton, Ore., just outside Portland, the walls are painted deep purple, red and gold and movie quotes from Casablanca and Star Wars are written on the walls. On the sign out front, “Mark’s” has replaced the word “Hollywood” over a Hollywood Hills backdrop.

The two sides are set to return to court in January.

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