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Exit Interview: Outgoing Redbox President Mark Horak Reflects On His Tenure

Though his career at Redbox was cut short when his departure was announced Monday by slumping parent company Outerwall, president Mark Horak still has plenty to be proud of.

A home entertainment veteran of two decades, Mark Horak is unique among Variety Home Entertainment and Digital Hall of Fame inductees for his senior leadership roles at both a major Hollywood studio and a key retailer of studio content.

“I think the fundamental value that I’ve brought to Redbox has been my understanding of the entertainment business models and how content is monetized throughout its lifecycle,” Horak said in an interview with Variety last month.

Horak became president of Redbox in March 2014 after serving as president of the Americas at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, a culmination of almost 20 years in positions of increasing responsibility at the studio.

Redbox rents DVDs, Blu-ray discs and video games from kiosks in more than 33,000 U.S. locations, including Walgreens, Walmart and McDonald’s locations. With movies generally available at Redbox kiosks 28 days after physical sell-through and digital platforms, the company is positioned to offer new releases to consumers at a value price, but before they are available on subscription services like Netflix.

Horak arrived in the home-entertainment industry from the packaged goods business in 1995, at the start of the transition from the access model offered by VHS rental to the ownership proposition of low-priced DVDs. Twenty years later, access is increasingly finding favor with consumers again, with subscription services growing in popularity as DVD sales continue to fall.

He saw his role as identifying and building strategies that can be accretive to both Redbox and its studio partners.

“The way I look at the entertainment business, it has been a combination of content, value and convenience. As technology for distributing content has evolved, you’re adjusting various levels of each of those things,” Horak said. The way he sees it, Redbox thrives by offering consumers value for new release content that is not available on a more convenient service like Netflix.

“There’s a role for transactional services,” he said. “Redbox adds value to (studios’) total bottom lines by bringing people into their franchises before they go into lower value services.”

Horak steps down as Outerwall had to revise its earnings guidance on the heels of poor third-quarter results for the company, which saw the performance of theatricals via its core kiosk business decline.

Horak is also chairman of the Los Angeles advisory board of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, an organization he brought together with the home entertainment industry in 2012 through the creation of the Los Angeles Entertainment Summit. Produced by the Entertainment Merchants Assn. and benefiting CFF, LAES has become a premier annual forum for studios, video game publishers, retailers, distributors and others to meet in a one-on-one format to discuss business, including the impact, benefits and challenges of new technologies and business models.

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