I am anticipating this to be a long post, so let’s just get going without any introductory jargon.
Movie options that didn’t work for us (but may work for some)
Netflix: We tried Netflix once, but didn’t quite get along with it. We usually watch movies only on weekends (weekdays are incredibly busy)…and we watch a lot of them on weekends. So, if we were to go with Netflix, the only attractive options for us would be the 3-movies-at-a-time for $17.99/month or the 4-movies-at-a-time for $23.99/month. With either option, we would probably get all the movies before the weekend and return them immediately after the weekend. If we do this about 4 times every month (on an average), that still works out to be about $1.5 per movie….assuming we watch 12 movies (3 on each weekend) on the $17.99 plan or 16 movies (4 on each weekend) with the $23.99 plan. If we end up watching less (in all probability this will happen often), then the cost per movie is even more. Plus, there is no way we can predict our weekend-mood in advance….like, we don’t want to be stuck with horror movies when we really want to watch something light.
Blockbuster: In-store renting from Blockbuster is just ridiculously expensive…costs something like $4+ per DVD. We gave up on Blockbuster about three years ago. It just sucked too much. I checked the Blockbuster Total Access program, but in our case it works out to be almost similar to the Netflix options (with the same disadvantages), plus the added goodness of exchanging movies in-store.
Cheap movie rentals @ vending machines (kiosks)
The New Release (TNR): There are about 4 of these movie-vending machines installed on the premises of some large retail chain stores in our vicinity. The machine charges $1 (plus tax) per day for each DVD rented. This is our best movie-renting option so far. There is no limit on how many movies you can rent.
Redbox: I was unaware of these kiosks till I saw them at a couple of MacDonald’s in Texas. Redbox is a venture between MacDonald’s and Coinstar . It essentially offers the same deal as TNR vending machines: $1 per DVD per day. At times, Redbox offers promotional codes (check this website) which might allow you to borrow DVDs for free!
DVDXpress: In addition to $1 per day DVDs, these guys also offer $12.99 per month subscriptions with no limitations on the number of movies you can rent.
I have personally used only The New Release as of yet, and I am pretty happy with it; found the rest of the services by searching online. I wanted to mention the vague locations/states in which there are better chances of finding these kiosks. However, trying to find how many kiosks are installed in a given city is really painful (none of the companies have a published database of all the cities/locations their respective kiosks). However, they do provide search options based on zipcodes, so see if you can find one near you.
Other cheap movie options
Hastings: We use Hastings occasionally when the movies we want are not available in the New Release Machine. Rentals are a bit cheaper here (as compared to Blockbuster) at about $3.5 per DVD for recently released movies and about $2 for older movies. The good thing is that they give you credit ($1 credit for new movies and $0.5 credit for old movies) for returning rented movies before the end of the next business day. So, that works out to be not-so-expensive. We have also found Hastings to be the best place to buy used DVDs. Our local Hastings store runs some used DVD promotions a few times a year. Over the last couple of years, we have bought about two dozen popular DVD movies from the store at an average price of around $3 per DVD!…it’s just that you won’t get the latest movies in these kinds of promotions.
Using friends’ network: We must have borrowed and lent tons of movies (all for free) between our friends. This option works best when used in moderation. Too much borrowing or lending between friends may lead to “taken-for-granted” type of situations and magically damaged DVDs.
Using students’ networks: Let’s just say that the cheapest things in the world are often bought from graduating students. If you live near a school/university, look out for some student mailing lists…especially around graduation time. We haven’t bought a lot of movies this way, but some of our friends have managed to grab a sackful of movies in $5 ~$10 from students who preparing to graduate and leave this place.
Some quick tips for movies @ theaters
If you are a student, use your college/university identity card at movie theaters to get significant discounts. In our town, we get to watch movies in a darn good theater complex for just $4.00 with our student ID cards. Regular “Adult” tickets are $6.00. Interestingly, tickets marked “Child” or “Senior” are more expensive than the student tickets.
If possible, don’t buy your tickets online. Usually, there is a service charge of about $1~$1.50 involved with buying theater tickets online. That’s like a 25% ~ 37.5% *convenience* charge on a $4.00 ticket…not worth it.
Please feel free to share information about how you get your movies for cheap. Do you (or anyone you know) use online streaming/downloading stuff for watching movies? I tried to find some information about that…but I kept landing on shady websites and eventually gave up.