Home movies

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Where do people turn when it comes to watching rental videos?

In this area, there appear to be five choices and they fall under four

headings: Renting from video stores, renting from mail-order outlets, renting from a vending machine or calling the cable company to order a movie from its selections.

With the only theater in this area having closed earlier this month, the options for movie-lovers are to rent from one of the outlets, or to drive a substantial distance to a theater.

All of the rental options offer different pluses and minuses at different prices. But clearly, the trend is pushing in the direction for consumers being able to order from home, and order whenever the consumer sees fit.

Currently, however, there are more options.

The most obvious choice of old-fashioned renting is to shop at existing video stores. There are two serving the area: Blockbuster and The Movie Gallery.

At Blockbuster, with a store Franklin, the options are twofold: The so-called traditional method of joining a membership, dropping by and picking out which movies to rent. Such a decision also means deciding when to return the DVD. Ditto for The Movie Gallery, which has stores in Franklin, Windsor, Smithfield and Carrollton.

Both offer DVDs available on their nationwide

release dates, but also offer the opportunity to buy used DVDs.

Blockbuster also offers its monthly service called “Total Access” for $34.99 per month that allows movie fans unlimited rentals, three at a time, which can be gathered by mail or by visiting the store. DVDs can be rented for roughly $4 for newer releases after joining the Blockbuster membership, and there are other monthly rates for smaller packages allowing for fewer rentals at a time.

Today, however, there are other options serving other niches.



Netflix is the largest online DVD rental service, offering flat rate rental-by-mail to customers in the United States.

Established in 1997 and headquartered in California, it has amassed a collection of 90,000 titles and nearly 7 million subscribers. Netflix, which advertises heavily, has more than 55 million discs and ships 1.6 million a day on an average day.

In February of last year, Netflix announced the billionth DVD delivery.

Netflix also stepped into the streaming business earlier this year, offering its “Instant Viewing” feature to a limited number of customers, with the feature now available to all eligible subscribers. The “Watch Instantly” feature allows subscribers, at no additional cost, to stream near-DVD quality movies and TV shows, depending on subscribers’ Internet connectivity.

Currently the “Watch Instantly” service has over more than 6,000 movies and TV shows available.

“Unlimited has always been a very powerful selling point with our subscribers and a large part of what set us apart in the marketplace,” said Leslie Kilgore, the company’s chief marketing officer. “In talking with members about our streaming feature during the past year, it became clear that, as with DVDs, the idea of streaming unlimited movies and TV episodes on a PC resonated quite strongly. And we’re now in a good position to offer that.”

But renting the DVD from Netflx can also include agreeing to paying a monthly flat-fee service. A subscriber creates an order list, called a rental queue, of DVDs to rent.

The DVDs are delivered individually via the United States Postal Service from an array of regional warehouses. Currently, there are over 100 shipping points located throughout the United States.

A subscriber can keep a rented DVD as long as desired, but has a limit on the number of DVDs (determined by subscription level) that can be checked out at any one time.

To rent a new DVD, the subscriber mails the previous one back to Netflix in a prepaid mailing envelope. Upon receipt of the disc, Netflix ships the next available disc in the subscriber’s rental queue.

According to the company, Netflix’s most popular plan costs $16.99 (plus tax) per month, allowing a subscriber to check out up to 3 DVDs at a time. Other monthly plans range from $4.99 for one disc at a time and a limit of two per month, to $23.99 a month for four DVDs at a time for eight, unlimited exchange.

Besides movie rental service, Netflix also sells used DVDs to its subscribers. The purchase is delivered via the same system and billed using the same payment method as the rentals.



Blockbuster Inc. founded in 1985 and headquartered in Dallas, and has grown to about 8,000 stores offering in-home movie and game entertainment.

In November 2006, the company introduced its “Total Access” program that gives online customers the option of exchanging their DVDs through the mail or returning them to a nearby participating store in exchange for free in-store movie rentals. Customers no longer have to choose between renting online or renting in-store, and they never have to be without a movie.



Movie Gallery, Inc. is the second-largest North American home entertainment specialty retailer with more than 4,700 stores located in all 50 states.

Since the Company’s initial public offering in August 1994, Movie Gallery has grown from 97 stores to its present size through acquisitions and new store openings. In April 2005, Movie Gallery acquired industry peer Hollywood Entertainment bringing total annual revenue for the Company to over $2.5 billion.

For the fiscal year ending December 2004, Movie Gallery’s nearly 2,500 stores earned total revenue of $692.4 million.

Hollywood Video’s approximately 2,000 stores, along with 700 Game Crazy stores, earned total revenue of $1.78 billion.

Movie Gallery U.S., Inc. calls itself a “home video specialty retailer” primarily focused on the rental and sale of DVD and VHS movies and video games.

Movie Gallery was formed in 1985 by Joe Malugen and Harrison Parrish in Alabama. Through its wholly-owned subsidiary, M.G.A., the company’s founders began operating video specialty stores in southern Alabama and the Florida panhandle, and franchising the Movie Gallery store concept.

By June 1987 the company owned five stores and had a franchise operation of 45 stores. In 1988, the company began to consolidate the franchisees into company-owned stores. By 1992, The company had a total of 37 stores and annual revenues of $6 million.



Redbox is a relative newcomer to the local DVD rental scene.

Redbox offers fully automated DVD rental system featuring new release rentals for $1 per night.

There are more redbox machines than Blockbuster stores, according go the company’s Web site..

Launching only 12 prototype locations in 2002, redbox now has more than 6,000.

Redbox machines are available at Farm Fresh stores in Smithfield and Suffolk, and at Wal-Mart in Franklin.

“Redbox offers a level of service and convenience that our competitors simply can’t provide,” said Gregg Kaplan, chief executive officer, redbox.

Each fully automated redbox kiosk holds more than 500 DVDs, representing 100 to 150 of the newest movie releases, with new titles available every Tuesday.

Consumers use a touch screen to select their favorite movies, swipe a valid credit or debit card and select their movie.

The complete transaction takes less than 60 seconds. Customers can keep the DVD for as

long as they’d like for $1 per night plus tax.

After 25 nights, rental charges cease and the DVD is the customer’s to keep.

In addition, redbox’s patented rent-and-return anywhere technology allows consumers to rent DVDs at one location and return them to any redbox nationwide.


- a convenience not offered by the leading brick-and-mortar brands.


also can guarantee their favorite movie is in stock and waiting for them, by reserving a DVD online and picking it up at the kiosk of their choice.

Redbox kiosks are available at select McDonald’s&ml; restaurants, leading grocery stores and other retailers nationwide,

reaching consumers where they already shop.

In November 2007, redbox will install more than 400 new locations in

markets including Baltimore; Dallas; Dayton, Ohio; Las Vegas; Little Rock, Ark. and Roanoke, Va.