Friday, January 27, 2012

Waiting Out The Movies

Now it looks like Warner Bros. is indirectly making it possible for us to pay less to see movies simply by waiting a while longer.

At first, when I saw today's announcement about Warner Bros.' new "deal" with Netflix, I thought it was another way for a large movie company to aggravate consumers who choose to buy or pay-for-view for recent new releases.

The story basically says that Netflix customers will now have to wait an additional 4 weeks to be able to watch selected movies beyond the on-sale date for the DVD. Clearly, Warner Bros. wants anxious consumers to purchase the DVD, at a higher profit margin for them, than to view the film through Netflix. Until now, consumers could make that choice immediately. Warner Bros. is banking on (literally) the possibility that more consumers will purchase the DVD than otherwise would if given the immediate choice.

After thinking on it for a few minutes, I realize that this actually helps us frugal consumers in the long run. This formula of the theater release, then DVD sale, and THEN via Netflix. Thus, the longer we wait, the less it will cost to see these movies.

I have no problem with waiting to see a movie, and hope others adopt this approach. The fact remains it is the SAME movie no matter when you see it for the first time. It is not like sports, where every game is different and there are specific plays and results every day.

Over the years, I go less and less to movie theaters. Years ago, theaters would have double features plus 'short' features in between. You could easily be in that movie theater for more than 4 hours. It was what you did for the evening for the entire afternoon. And it was affordable. Now, these theaters expect people to pay more than twice the price for less than half of the entertainment they used to offer. And that's without buying anything from the overpriced concession stand. (Of course, that's not necessary, since we are in and out of there so fast these days that there's not enough time to get hungry.)

All things considered, the new formula is taking shape. The same $10 that now gets you only 90 minutes in a theater will get you 2 or 3 movies at home a few weeks later. I, for one, can wait.

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