I was in my local video rental store a few days ago when I realized that within a few years none of these places will exist anymore.
With the ease of renting and watching movies on iTunes or amazon.com, not to mention On Demand services that are available from cable companies, stores where you can rent DVDs and Blu-Rays no longer make sense.
I’ve rented a few movies from iTunes. The quality is just as good as DVD—they are temporary downloads, so they never skip. Prices are a little high compared to the stores; newer movies are usually around $4, but there are plenty available for $2 or $3. They even run 99 cent specials, which you can’t beat. Sure you can rent two movies for a buck at some stores, but you can usually find those on Hulu anyway.
You only have the movie for 24 hours after you start to watch it, but that isn’t really a big deal if you have a few hours. The biggest weakness is the time it takes to download—which will obviously vary depending on your ISP. For a two and half hour movie mine take around six hours to download, which is obviously less time than it takes to drive to Blockbuster—though I suppose that would vary on an individual basis as well.
On the positive side, prices and download times will only decrease from now on.
Even Netflix, which has taken a large chunk away from the movie rental market from traditional stores by using DVDs, seems to understand that on demand films are the way to go. Even if movies take six hours to download, that’s a lot less time than waiting a day to get it in the mail.
Like books that are now digitized and will never go out of print, there shouldn’t be much issue with finding any movie you can think of to watch. For years if your local Blockbuster didn’t have it, there wasn’t much you could do, but that’ll never be an issue online.