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The Price of Admission

By Laura Fries

Families everywhere are tightening their belts. With movie ticket prices higher than ever, going to the movies is becoming a luxury. Competition for customers is heating up; the mega-chain video rental stores are not the only way to watch films. With the proper equipment and connections, families can even watch new releases on demand or order hard to find movies with just the click of a mouse. If you like to make a project of browsing the DVD aisles, many stores offer bargains and rewards to keep their customers coming in.  There's something here for every budget and lifestyle; and although no two movie rental services are exactly the same, this chart offers a look at the basic rental policies available in most areas of the country. With so many options for family movie nights at home, you'll save enough money on gas and tickets to order pizza — with extra toppings.

Netflix
Selection:
70,000 titles
Cost:
$4.99 for limited plan:
2 rentals a month, one movie at a time plus 2 hours of instant viewing
Late Fees:
None
Delivery Method:
1st Class Mail; free both ways; Instant computer viewing
Turnaround Time:
By mail: 1-2 days; Instant viewing
Keep For: As long as you want
Benefits/Drawbacks:
PlusSmall wait time for mailings
Blockbuster Online
Selection:
85,000 titles
Cost:
$9.99 for 1 DVD at a time up to two movies per month plus 2 free in-store exchanges per calendar month
Late Fees:
None
Delivery Method:
1st Class Mail; free both ways
Turnaround Time:
By mail: 1-2 days; Instant viewing
Keep For: As long as you want
Benefits/Drawbacks:
PlusCan exchange movies in-store instead of waiting to return by mail
Blockbuster Store
Selection:
Limited to what's available in-store
Cost:
$4.99 for new releases
$3.99 for older titles
Late Fees:
$1.31 per movie per rental period past a seven day grace period
Delivery Method:
In-Store shopping
Keep For: Two days
Benefits/Drawbacks:
PlusMust travel to pick up
MinusMovies subject to availability
Redbox
Selection:

Limited to what's available at in-store machine unless pre-ordered online

Cost:
$1.00
Late Fees:

$1 per day for a maximum of 25 days after which you own the movie

Delivery Method:

Vending-type machines in convenience and grocery stores

Keep For: 1 Day
Benefits/Drawbacks:
PlusCan request movies to your store online
MinusMay be limited or have to wait for selections.
MinusShort viewing period
Library
Selection:

Limited selection

Cost:
Free with library card
Late Fees:
25 cents per day
Delivery Method:
Pick up at library
Keep For: 1 week
Benefits/Drawbacks:
PlusCan check out 3 movies at a time
MinusSelection may not be as current or broad as commercial vender
Independent Store
Selection:
70,000 titles
Cost:
$3.60 for new releases
$3.00 for older titles
$2.00 for VHS with store membership
Late Fees:
Cost of the allotted rental timeframe
Delivery Method:
Pickup in-store
Keep For:

Three days for new titles; five days for VHS and older titles

Benefits/Drawbacks:
PlusKnowledgeable staff and weekly specials and coupons
MinusHard to find titles
OnDemand
Selection:
Limited titles
Cost:

$4.99 for new releases
Free for older titles and some TV shows

Late Fees:
None
Delivery Method:

Instant to TV with cable or satellite subscription

Turnaround Time:
Instant
Keep For:

24-hour viewing period and up to a 30-day storage period

Benefits/Drawbacks:
PlusWatch whenever the mood strikes you
MinusLimited and varying titles available
Hollywood Video
Selection:
70,000 titles
Cost:

$4.79 for new releases
$2.99 for older titles

Late Fees:

After first late day, you are charged for another five day rental

Delivery Method:

Pick up in-store

Keep For: Five days
Benefits/Drawbacks:
PlusMVP for $14.99 allows two rentals for a whole month excluding new releases
MinusLimited and varying titles available

*Most online services have different membership levels. This chart is based on the most basic level of membership. The On-Demand details can vary per service carrier. The Independent Store and Library information is an example of the alternatives that may be offered in different areas.

 

About the Author
A freelance writer and TV Critic for Daily Variety, Laura Fries has been writing about TV and film entertainment for more than eighteen years. She lives with her husband, daughter and a small menagerie of pets in Alexandria, Virginia.

 


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