The snow is here: Weather forecasters are already making their gregarious reports about potentially seeing over five feet of snow this upcoming winter. Supermarkets eagerly await the emergency rush on canned goods and restaurants are weeping at the amount of business they stand to lose.
For college students, we as a whole must prepare ourselves for nights potentially held up inside, fending for ourselves for entertainment.
For most, the perfect way to spend a night holed up inside would be with a good rental DVD or Blu-ray movie and a bowl of popcorn.
However, the possibilities of where to obtain those films are numerous, well beyond the years where Blockbuster dominated the world of video rental needs.
In the information age, where the Internet is the dominating sales domain, video rental stores of the past have become obsolete.
In the early days of video rental, “Mom and Pop” stores were able to stay alive with business from a reliable source of local shoppers.
There was no corporate force spreading across the nation monopolizing the world of videos. Then a small company called Blockbuster that started in Dallas, began to gather steam.
Following a merger with larger corporations, Blockbuster began to spread quickly, opening stores across the nation on a daily basis.
Following the decision to remove all pornographic films from the shelves, the small corporation sold their rights to the company to Viacom, effectively extinguishing the small-game stores.
Now over 20 years old, Blockbuster Inc. is facing the same fate that they wrought on the video rental industry years ago. Stores across the nation are closing down.
In moves to bring back business they started an on-line rental agency, attempted to buy out Circuit City and began offering “no late fees.” That plan backfired when they were sued for misrepresentation.
But the facts remain the same. Blockbuster does not appeal to a floundering economy. The store charges nearly five dollars per new release rental.
With so many different options viable for a spending savvy nation, it appears as though Blockbuster may be doomed to go under, like many other corporations.
For those who are looking for a more cost efficient method of renting movies, there is the option of Netflix. This business was established in 1997 and has steadily increased in popularity on a yearly basis.
The business offers movies sent through the mail. The customer is allowed as much time as they want to watch the films. They then return the DVDs by mail, with the postage covered by Netflix. Once Netflix receives the returned films, they send the next group from the customer’s “queue.”
Netflix offers three different packages for their customers. The first plan is $8.99 and offers one movie at a time. For two movies the cost is $13.99. Three films cost $16.99.
“It beats spending six bucks on one movie and then having to bring it back in two days. It’s worth the cost and they are quick getting the movies in,” Melissa Fox, a Netflix member, said.
Netflix has also teamed with Xbox to offer streamed videos over the Xbox 360 console. Membership is required for streamed films.
Playstation 3 followed behind Xbox and began offering an application to stream Netflix in November. Members also have the option to watch select films streamed online.
Netflix memberships are available at www.netflix.com. Netflix also offers the opportunity to give memberships away as gifts for the holidays.
The competition between Netflix and Blockbuster reached a new height in 2006 when Netflix sued Blockbuster’s on-line renting system for patent infringement. The case was settled in 2007 with the settlement not being released to the public.
For those still unwilling to spend the higher price per rental at Blockbuster and cannot commit to $8.99 a month for a Netflix membership, there is Redbox.
Most people have seen these video rental kiosks in their local grocery store or fast food restaurants.
Redbox is a renting apparatus that might look like a vending machine to the naked eye, but upon further inspection it is the least costly way to rent DVDs.
Redbox offers DVDs at a dollar per day. The customer does not need a membership; they simply have to use a credit card for the rental. The user is then charged a dollar for every 24 hours they own the video and have 25 days to return it.
Upon the 25th day the video is considered purchased and the customer is charged $25. For most looking for a quick movie night with some of the most popular titles, Redbox is the best option.
In 2007 Redbox passed Blockbuster in number of locations across the country. Redboxes can be located in numerous areas across West Chester.
The options are plentiful for any movie fan.
For those that feel priced out of seeing films in the theaters and are unwilling to pay to purchase films they have not viewed yet before renting then they have numerous options.
Most opt for Netflix, which has become arguably the most popular form of video rental, sending over a billion films by mail between 2007 and 2009.
Blockbusters continue to struggle financially and are looking to close more stores in 2010 and turn their focus to on-line renting.
Ken Schmidt is a fifth-year student majoring in English and minoring in journalism. He can be reached at KS609536@wcupa.edu.