Five-Dollar Movie Rentals?!? Blockbuster has gone insane.

Posted on 14 November 2009 by Quaid

I rent movies via three separate options. My first choice is to use Netflix, an online service that seems to have every DVD and Blu-Ray movie known to man.

NetflixIn addition to their super-fast disc service (depending on where you live, of course), they have a “watch now” option that allows me to stream hundreds of high-quality movies straight to my computer (and TV). It’s a great way to find that impromptu movie when hanging out with friends. The entire Netflix package costs me $14.99 a month.

But “watch now” on Netflix doesn’t have very many new releases. When it comes to those, I tend to mosy on down the block to the McDonald’s down the street and grab a film from the Redbox–an automated DVD rental system. Their selection is limited to only the newest and biggest films, but the cost is just $1 per night. It’s cheap and convenient and I can’t beat it.

But what about when I get a hankerin’ to watch an older film but don’t want to wait for the Netflix delivery? Better yet, what if I want to sift through all kinda of movies hands-on and rent one immediately. In that case I head over to the only worthwhile mom-and-pop video store in Louisville, Wild and Woolly Video. They have a huge selection, and rentals are $2 for a night.

With all these fantastic options, it amazes me when I walk out of Wild and Woolly and look across the street to the local Blockbuster. It’s parking lot is filled with cars–families and couples eager to find the perfect video for the night.

BlockBusterVideoI headed over there not too long ago to see what all the fuss was about. After a long process of deciding what my friends and I wanted to watch, we settled on a film. We rented it. We shelled out a whopping $4.99.

Jesus H. Christ. Why in God’s name would anyone pay $5 for a rental these days? I can buy most movies at Wal-Mart for $5-$10, and can rent for a lot less than that elsewhere. Not to mention the fact that Blockbuster’s selection is pretty sad.

Of course this information prompts me to look at my friends, shrug my shoulders and say “No wonder they’re going out of business.”

The company is still riding on their name, I think, and taking advantage of the small towns where these other, cheaper options for movie-renting don’t exist. But charging $5 for a movie rental is insane.

They’ll tell you that they can’t keep the doors open without charging that much, but Wild and Woolly seems to be doing just fine offering rentals at less than half the price. Sure, it’s only one night as opposed to five, but I never want to hang onto a movie that long anyway.

I know some people do, and that’s fine. Give them their five dollar rentals. But Blockbuster, if you want me to come in, give me a cheap one-night option. Stop selling off all your vintage movies and actually build up some kind of selection.

In five years the brick-and-mortar movie rental business will be all but dead, replaced, largely, by digital content delivery. And Blockbuster, I know we’ve had some good times, but it’s time to say goodbye. We’ve grown apart. It’s not me…it’s you.                           

Categorized | Commentary

6 Comments For This Post

  1. Matt Paprocki Says:

    I use Family Video in addition to Netflix. Redbox would be great but I’m a Blu-ray guy and none of the local kiosks rent those.

    Movie rental prices are insane at Blockbuster, as if their name allows them to charge more. The “deal” for five nights only applies to a few people who struggle to make it back to the store in time. Most rental places, certainly those I used to work at like Movie Gallery (also RiP soon) at least gave you the option to knock down the nights to reduce cost. Blockbuster seems to have missed that memo.

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