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[Discussion] Redbox Faces Financial Freefall: Bankruptcy Threatens as Lawsuits and Debt Mount

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Despite many efforts to rescue the company's shaky financial situation, it appears that Redbox's financial turmoil continues to deepen. Just this Thursday, a Los Angeles court ruled against the company, imposing a $16.7 million fine. The company fell into bad graces with NBCUniversal after it failed to deliver on a scheduled settlement payment that they had agreed upon earlier in May.

The Prospect of Bankruptcy Looms

This missed payment is dire news for Redbox, as it means they now owe the remaining balance in its entirety. Beyond failing to meet the payment, however, there is also the worrying suggestion that the company didn't have adequate funds available to do so. This brings up the ominous specter of bankruptcy, which may be looming not just for Redbox but also for its debt-laden corporate parent, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment.

It's notable to add that NBCUniversal had taken legal action against Redbox in February over unpaid DVD and online rental royalties. The studio claimed in its lawsuit that Redbox ceased paying their royalties "around the summer of 2022" and owed around $16.7 million in total.

Redbox and Chicken Soup's Shared Debt Dilemma

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment didn't fare much better with their fiscal situation, having acquired $325 million in debt when they purchased Redbox in August of 2022. Regrettably, the company's financial condition has steadily declined since then. At the end of Q1, it was reported that Chicken Soup had an accumulated deficit of $937 million. The company is now getting served with lawsuits from an increasingly numerous group of business partners over unsettled bills.

Chicken Soup had attempted to amass $175 million this past spring to settle their debts with NBCUniversal, resolve other lawsuits, and service debt held by their most significant creditor. Unfortunately, they were incapable of reaching this goal. The company defaulted on their debt in early June but avoided immediately filing for bankruptcy protection. Instead, Chicken Soup's CEO, Bill Rouhana, sought a drastic measure, dismissing the entire board of directors, even including his wife.

Redbox's Transportation Crisis

While dealing with their ongoing financial struggles, Redbox is concurrently up against another imminent crisis: a company that is leasing more than 400 cars to Redbox has filed a lawsuit over unsettled bills. This company has managed to secure the right to repossess these vehicles in early June, further compounding Redbox's problems.

Redbox alerted its employees earlier this week about an upcoming change where they would relinquish a portion of these cars to the fleet company. Company representatives have framed this change as a step towards "evolving our fleet strategy" in notices sent out to staff. However, in an earlier court filing, Redbox's legal team was more straightforward about the impact of losing access to these leased vehicles, stating that Redbox would be "compelled to terminate hundreds of jobs and would be put out of business."

Unfortunately, all attempts to reach out to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment for comments have been fruitless, adding to the ominous uncertainty that surrounds the future of the company.

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