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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lights, Camera, Action...and don't forget the popcorn!


With the weekend comes the need for movies...and preferably affordable ones! I have never been a big fan of going out to theatres to see movies unless they are filled with special effects that beg for big-screen viewing. I don't like the inevitable sticky floors (and sometimes seats), kids texting during the film so that the theatre has flashing lights throughout and the fact that some rude person (often NOT a child) kicks my seat during the crucial scenes! That said, I find I am a much nicer person when I've had my movie fix on my own sofa.

I have a bit of a movie rental deals and steals comparisons for your viewing pleasure today. And, even if you typically rent from one place, you may want to check and see if you are getting the best deal for your viewing style. Most of the services/stores here offer plans tailored to how many videos you rent at one time, how quickly you can return them and whether you want that special DVD tonight or next week.

NETFLIX (www.netflix.com)
* Your movie selections are delivered directly to you in the mail (not in the pretty spiffy movie case, but is that really necessary?)
* There are over 100,000 titles available (I never requested one they didn't have though granted I only lasted 2 months!)
* Plans start at $8.99/month where you can check out 1 DVD at a time and exchange for another as often as you want during the month (in addition you can instantly watch as many movies online on your PC, MAC or on your TV via a Netflix-ready device instantly and as often as you want for no extra charge)
* A prepaid envelope is provided with each new rental to allow for convenient returns
* They also carry Blu-ray movies.
* Movies are shipped within 1 business day.

My take: Netflix delivered as promised...if you watch the movies quickly it is a great deal. Unfortunately, I never got to it the day it came in and it could sit a week on my counter; therefore I paid way over average per movie rental! Also, what sounded good when I ordered, didn't necessarily seem that wonderful when it came in.


BLOCKBUSTER (www.blockbuster.com)

* Blockbuster has in-store rentals as well as an order online version.
* In-store they generally have some great deals on previewed movies - wonderful for classics or that one comedy you tend to watch over & over!
* The Total Access plans allow you to return DVDs by mail or exchange them in store (up to your plans limits per billing month)with movies shipped to you within 1-2 business days.
* Blu-ray titles are available.
* Over 90,000 online titles available
* Renting in-store, you often earn coupons after renting a set number of movies

My take: For the same reason as with NetFlix, I don't do the online rentals with Blockbuster. They are the closest video store to my home, but their selection is ALWAYS limited, they are ALWAYS understaffed and frequently their DVDs are scratched/don't work. I typically use Blockbuster only when I've earned free rentals through eRewards surveys or mycokerewards.com. Those allow me free new release rentals...Blockbuster's coupons are generally for non-new releases. Bear in mind that my opinion is based on my own Blockbuster franchise so don't be afraid to give it a try in your area; they can differ!

HOLLYWOOD VIDEOS (www.hollywoodvideo.com)

* Like Blockbuster, you can get some good deals on previously viewed movies and their quality is typically good.
* Hollywood offers a free birthday rental for you and each person on your account from their Hollywood Film Library (check to see what titles this includes!)
* They offer senior citizen discounts of 10%.
* Rent any 3 movies and you get a FREE single popcorn or M&M candy.
* They have "PowerPlay" plans which allow you to select a plan. You can upgrade (or downgrade) from one plan to another and you earn PowerPoints for movies or games from the store. Slight difference with their plans though...you pay a per month fee to get cheaper rentals (got that? you still pay per rental!), no due dates, no late fees and discounts on game rentals and concessions. You also get discounts on movie purchases (previewed movies).

My take: I love Hollywood's in-store selection and there are frequently coupons in the mail or on inserts for free rentals. They have typically more copies available of new releases too. I don't see a great benefit to their "plans" as I still pay for rentals and I don't really want to pay a monthly fee on top of that...I don't see the overall value on this one!

REDBOX (www.redbox.com)

* Redbox is exactly that...have you seen a red vending machine (red box) outside a local store (in our case Walgreen's)? In a couple of easy steps you can rent a DVD or several from the machine.
* You must use a debit or credit card to pay and enter some basic info on the touchscreen to make the rental
* You can actually reserve movies in advance online at www.redbox.com and movies can be returned to ANY Redbox.
* Movies are $1.00 per night and there are no late fees or other charges. Your card is charged immediately for the first night, then for the remainder upon return of the movie.

My take: This is my new favorite! It's a quick fix when I want to watch a movie the same day. It's cheap, it's easy and the only catch is that it offers a rather limited selection and that can vary by Redbox location. They do, however, typically have a good selection of new releases readily available the minute they come out! You can occasionally find promo codes for the boxes too!


OK, so we've already established that I don't do the movies by mail routine (own personal preference!), but for those with young children or who are very concerned about appropriate content in movies, I did find a site online:
www.ChristianCinema.com. This is also an online DVD rental club with plans simmilar to what others offer price-wise. They also offer a "Fast Pass" for $34.95 per month (designed for churches with regular movie nights that allows up to 5 titles out at one time). There are no due dates, no late fees and all shipping is free. They also sell new and classic DVD releases. They refer to their movie selections as "faith-friendly" but before you assume this means they are all religious films, take a look! There are also lots of classics and top-run movies - just clean and fun! I haven't tried this site, but you might be interested!

Have fun!

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