Picking a video used to be the toughest part about home movie watching. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids or Fletch Lives? Gremlins 2 or Steel Magnolias?
But nowadays, the toughest part of home movies isn't which one we're going to watch. It's how we're going to get it.
With the introduction of movies in the mail (Netflix, Blockbuster) and movies in a vending machine (Redbox), compounded with cheap prices at big-box stores and movie downloads and online streams, there are more ways to watch Keanu Reeves act than there are roles that he is capable of playing. Having a movie night at home is now akin to planning a political coup or picking a college major. Will you regret the decision later? Could you be getting a better deal elsewhere? How come nobody has Babe 2: Pig in the City?
These are real questions that people are dealing with, and they are doing so in very different ways. With such a wide variety of choices for a movie watcher, there are just as many styles that people have adopted to fit in with their habits. The following is a quick list of a number of the different movie profiles. See which one best describes you.
Netflix snob. People who subscribe to the movie-in-the-mail service Netflix invariably think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. They swoon over its convenience. They gush over its lack of late fees. They coddle their online movie queue as if it were a nursing infant. And they are 100 percent sure that Netflix is the best (and only) way to watch movies.
Their loyalty is admirable. Netflix is a great service that provides easy access to an endless supply of movie choices, so it makes sense that so many people have fallen in love. But with the most popular plan being $17.00/month, its cost is not an option for many. Just don't tell that to a Netflix snob.
Indie Redbox hipster. Redbox kiosks are the Arrested Development to Netflix's Two and a Half Men. Those who take advantage of the $1.00-per-night vending machine rentals at places like McDonald's and Albertsons feel as if they have stumbled upon a utopian wormhole in the movie rental world that no one else knows about. Seriously, who in their right mind would rent a movie at the same place one can purchase a Big 'N Tasty? And therein lies the indie Redbox hipster's secret weapon.
Redbox is a smashing success, but it remains largely under the radar compared to new services like Netflix. This is part of the appeal for the hipsters. They take great pride in stating to their friends that they rented the movie at a Redbox. And they take even greater pride when their friends respond in kind, "What's a Redbox?" The fewer people who know, the better chance that Juno will not be check out.
Thrifty Redbox family. The thrifty Redbox family and the indie Redbox hipster live completely different lives, brought together by a giant, red, movie-spitting machine. Where the indie hipster likes Redbox for its cool factor, the thrifty family likes it because it is cheap. One-dollar-per-night can't be beat, especially for families with a big brood to entertain.
Redbox realizes this, which is why their coffers are often crammed with Carebears, Mario and claymation. The Redbox really does make a perfect option for a thrifty family because the price is right, the movie selection has kid fare and adult fare, and the Big 'N Tasty value meal is just a few steps away.
Walmart bargain bin diver. You may have seen this person (or been this person), elbow-deep in a pile of Mickey Blue Eyes and Super Troopers, straining desperately in hopes that The Horse Whisperer: Director's Cut is sitting at the bottom of the bin. Those $4.99 movies can be quite a draw for some people, yet the bargain bin diver loses all sense of what makes a good movie when the price drops that low, focusing solely on what a good deal they just got on Candace Bergen's breakout hit.
The taste of cheapness is what drives this type of person, and since there's a good chance they have never heard of alternatives like Redbox or Netflix, they feel that dumpster diving in front of the Walmart entertainment section is the best way to go. And maybe it is. After all, some day The Horse Whisperer: Director's Cut might actually be on the bottom.
Sunday ad movie hoarder. There are those who just love owning movies. They appreciate the autonomy of settling down for a movie night and choosing from their library of flicks without worrying about going out or waiting for the mail to see what's on.
Of course, buying movies isn't cheap. Just ask the Walmart bargain bin diver. That's why this person uses the Sunday ad to her advantage. Each week, stores like Best Buy, Circuit City, and Target mark down the prices of select DVDs, and a wise hoarder keeps an eye out to see when her favorite films go on the cheap. Though the more affordable option of one-time rental still remains, the movie hoarder makes up for the difference by snatching up movies that will get repeated playback and in warming her soul with the comfort of owning free-and-clear.
Reclusive cable/satellite downloader. Services like DirecTV and Comcast allow subscribers to choose new release movies to watch through the comfort of their cable box. But have you ever met anyone who watches movies this way? No doubt these pay-per-viewers exist, but they are so incredibly rare (or so incredibly reclusive) that they barely register in the movie watching conversation.
The convenience of pushing a button on the remote is the biggest draw for this type of movie. But with non-competitive prices and with unclear viewing rules, the on-demand movies tend to only cater to a small population - a small, agoraphobic population.
Nostalgic in-store rental geezer. Some people still get their movies the old-fashioned way: at the movie rental store. Places like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video aren't as popular as they once were, but they still pose a certain familiarity for people who are used to getting their movies by staring blankly in a store for 30 minutes trying to pick out what they want.
It is safe to assume that mostly old people do it this way. Some of the newer technologies just don't work with their lifestyles, so they end up heading down to their tried-and-true movie store instead. Don't be surprised if Blockbuster starts stocking more Charlie Chaplin films.
Chameleon. Most of these movie types are extremes. Chances are that most people take a chameleon approach, choosing bits and pieces of each depending on their mood or needs. With so many movie watching options available, can you blame them?
What type of movie rental personality are you?