Rent Movies

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Google the term "rent movies" and you'll see the big movie rental options in front of you: Blockbuster, Netflix and Redbox at #1, #2 and #3. For those who want are still considering different plans for their film rentals, I decided to offer a quick one-page overview of these three companies. Each has a slightly different approach to renting DVDs, Blu-ray discs and downloads to people.

Netflix Movie Rentals

Netflix was the first successful online movie rental company, and it remains the best option, in my opinion. Where Netflix excels is there shipping method, which usually means it's only two days between you mailing a movie and getting a replacement. From the Netflix queue to scalable movie rental plans, it's simply the best in the business.

There have been a few instances in the past 2-3 years where Netflix has degraded their advantages with corporate decisions. They've made it harder for people to find new releases, while doing away with the friends lists that so many of us love. And it's annoying to learn about Netflix's "throttling" policies, where they slow down shipments to high volume renters, so these accounts don't end up costing them money every month.

If you're looking for new releases, there are better options than Netflix, because you aren't likely to receive a new release as soon as it comes out. If you want to watch older titles and foreign films, and you value dependable shipping (at a reasonable pace), then Netflix is the best organized movie rental company in the market.

Blockbuster Movie Rentals

For years, Blockbuster Online has been hammered by Netflix, mainly because Blockbuster couldn't find a way to ship movie rentals to people as quickly as Netflix. Blockbuster also wasn't particularly concerned with taking their major asset - franchises in every city - and blending that with their online movie rental operation. Blockbuster's execs appeared to assume that a brand name and the option to rent video games meant they would compete, or beat, Netflix. That never exactly happened.

In recent years, Blockbuster Online has reorganized its business model to allow Internet movie renters to drop off their DVDs and games at the nearest Blockbuster, cutting down on shipping time. That's an improvement that should have happened years earlier. Ending frustrating policies where they immediately billed your credit card for in-store late fees also helped, and now your movie has to be out at least a week before you start to suffer. But in-store selection is still limited by the Netflix standard, so the advantage of local store rentals is limited to the aforementioned "new release" gap and the movie drop-off convenience.

Blockbuster has begun a new strategy over the past year or two, as it's beginning to compete with the next company on our list: Redbox. Blockbuster movie rental kiosks are now popping up around the nation, letting you rent a few hundred of the most popular titles without having to go in the store. So it seems that Blockbuster has finally realized these 21st century competitors really can compete, and they have to keep up.

Redbox Movie Rentals

When I first saw a Redbox kiosk, I thought to myself, "That's never going to work. Local thieves are going to destroy the machine and take the movies." Well, how wrong I was, and how dim my view of humanity.

I should have known: Redbox is a subsidiary of McDonald's, so there's serious money funding this operation. Redbox has turned into a serious presence in the movie rental business. In fact, three movie studioes (Univeral, Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox) grew concerned enough about their impact on DVD sales and traditional rentals that they put a 28-day delay on new releases to Redbox, prompting an anti-trust lawsuit which were only resolved early in 2010.

The bargain struck stipulated that Redbox would withhold new release DVD rentals for 28 days, though they entered into a bargain to release Blu-ray disc new releases. Since Blu-ray is the obvious successor to DVDs, this serves as a kind of "grandfather clause" for the DVD dominance of traditional movie rental businesses, while clearing the way for Redbox to make a bigger impact, when Blu-ray finally takes over the market. Meanwhile, Redbox has signed comprehensive distribution deals with other movie studios, including Paramount, Sony Pictures and Lionsgate, while Walt Disney allows third-party distribution to them.

How Does Redbox Work?

All that aside, if you're wondering how Redbox works, you go to a Redbox kiosk and browse the selection, which numbers a limited selected of titles in the low hundreds. When you make your selection, swipe your credit card and grab the movie you selected. While customers can't request a specific title at a kiosk, you do have the ability to go online and find the kiosk nearest you that carries that title. Drop-offs are required the next night by 9:00 (to any kiosk nationwide), or you get charged a fee.

There's also the option to reserve Redbox movies online. Go to the Redbox website and create an account. Find the nearest kiosk with the film you want and reserve this copy. Reserving a title means it's withheld from the renting public, though you're instantly charged a rental fee to your credit card, so you want to remember to pick up the movie you rented.

Movie Rentals

So those are three viable ways to rent movies through traditional 20th century movie rental frachises, or new 21st century film rental methods. I'm sure one of these companies, or a new competitor, will sooner or later find a better way to offer rentals. I'm sure we're moving towards the day when all media are combined in a home entertainment device, and movie rentals will be done with the remote control and tv screen. How long until that happens is up to the executives at Netflix, Blockbuster and perhaps McDonald's, and the American movie renting public.

To read more online movies rental companies and a good place to read movie rental reviews, check out this guides for how to rent movies. To read movie reviews and other film industry news, click on Only Good Movies, a website which answers questions from real readers.

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