Most of you weren’t here this summer to witness the closing of Mr. Movies. It was open one day, totally empty the next. It closed without any prior notice to the employees. However, I think it is indicative of an important change in our world: the change in how we obtain entertainment, particularly our movies.
Mr. Movies isn’t the only victim in the last couple of years. Blockbuster, the best recognized brick-and-mortar video rental service nationwide, is set to close nearly 1,000 stores this year. Their pricey process is falling to the cheaper, more convenient world of the Internet and low-maintenance kiosks. Netflix and Redbox are just a couple examples of these alternative venues. Each reflects different approaches to media consumption.
Netflix’s service satisfies two seemingly opposite kinds of movie watchers: the impulsive and the planning, precise connoisseur.
For those unfamiliar, Netflix is a movie service that mails the DVD(s) that you have chosen ahead of time on their website. Each subscriber arranges a “queue,” which is essentially a database of selected movies arranged in the order you want to watch them in. With the most basic Netflix membership, you pay $8.99 per month to check out one DVD at a time.
So Netflix can take some planning and patience, as you will need to wait a few days to get the next movie. For users who cannot wait, there are more expensive subscriptions that allow multiple simultaneous rentals.
Netflix also offers the option to stream certain movies to your computer or many other Netflix-enabled devices that can be connected to your TV (which includes some DVD players and game consoles).
Netflix also gets to know you a little bit by asking you to rate your movies, then markets movies that it thinks you will like. For instance, if I rate chick flicks poorly and documentary films favorably, Netflix will advertise documentaries to me and not chick flicks (sorry, Sarah Jessica Parker). Its recommendations come from an infinite library of movies and TV series, which is its greatest strength in my opinion. It has almost any movie ever made.
So Netflix gives you the opportunity to plan, to be impulsive and to be known.
Redbox, which has become the greatest rival to Netflix, has in mind the “all-in-one-trip” shopper. Students who shop at the Sioux Center Wal-Mart or our local ALCO (which, admittedly, has a derivative “yellow box”) will find the kiosk conveniently located near the exit. Thus, Redbox doesn’t take planning.
While it may be sufficient for some viewers, Redbox has fewer options because you can’t fit an infinite library into a small red robot in Wal-Mart. However, while it may seem easy at the time you rent, the service may be more work to students than it is worth. What once was advertised as a one-dollar rental can quickly become fpir 15-mile trips to Sioux Center between renting and returning the movie, totalling one hour of delivery time and 60 miles of gas.
Students should also know that the local library may also have the movie you’re looking for. The only necessary subscription is a library card application.
Despite all of these options, there was really nothing like stuffing all your friends into the car and driving down to the local Mr. Movies (for 99-cent Movie Monday, of course), taking half an hour of argument to finally settle on that one mediocre film that you can all agree will not kill you to watch.
It’s a sad day in Orange City when you can’t go to your friendly neighborhood video rental store to see a smiling face, an outdated library, and a bill: eight dollars in late fees. But the times, they are a changin’.