Episode 35: April 28, 2010
by Linsey Knerl
If you’ve found yourself avoiding the first-run movie theater due to budgetary issues, you’re not alone. Many people are turning to in-home entertainment as their first pick for viewing all kinds of content, including the newest movies. We look at all of the ways you can take in a flick without leaving the house, and how you can make your movie money go even further.
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Pay Less for Pay-Per-View Movies
If you’re a cable, dish, or satellite subscriber, you’re well aware that many of the newest movies are available in some kind of pay-per-view format for at-home watching. With prices at $3.99 - $6.99 per movie, however, watching even just a few a month can easily break the budget. We recommend that you save some cash by signing up for your provider’s email newsletter and home mailers. Why? They often mail out subscriber-only offers that can give you anywhere from a dollar off each movie purchase to a full refund for your order on your next bill. One more quick and dirty tip: Unless you have a super-decked out home theater system, skip the additional charge for the HD version of movies. (Most viewers don’t notice much of a difference.)
Hulu is no longer going to be a completely free service, but even with the reported minimal access charges, it’s still a great deal for movie lovers. In addition to watching episodes of your favorite TV shows, viewers can access some pretty decent films via this leader in online streaming media. For even more variety, check out Fancast.com, which combines all the offerings of Hulu with several other free and legal content sites. With a simple connection from your laptop via an Audio Visual cable, you can skip squinting at your 17” laptop screen and can view all your movies on the TV of your choice.
Save Money with Netflix
If you’re not hip to the idea of constantly connecting your computer to your TV for each movie marathon, consider a Roku Netflix Instant Viewing box.
When it comes to one service that offers the best of a classic DVD rental service AND the convenience of online content, Netflix can’t be beat. With their new releases available via mail delivery and most STARZ premium channel offerings for free viewing online, it’s a value-packed package that starts at just $9 a month and gives you the most options for your dollar. If you’re not hip to the idea of constantly connecting your computer to your TV for each movie marathon, consider a Roku Netflix Instant Viewing box (which runs about $100 and also allows you to stream Pandora, MLB.com, Amazon Unbox, and other channels directly to your TV via a wireless connection) or get your Netflix picks through your Xbox 360 or Wii. See the Netflix website for instructions on getting started.
Use Amazon to Watch Movies
One of my personal favorite ways to catch a flick is the Amazon Unbox store. This handy download tool lets you stream movies online, or download them for viewing later. With the Roku Instant Viewing box, mentioned before, you can actually purchase your movies straight from your TV, and rentals start at just $1.99 for first-run new releases. Keep your eyes peeled for promo codes, however. Amazon frequently issues credits for a free rental, offers free movie previews, and has 99cent sales for even the most popular films.
Check Out the Movie Kiosks at the Grocery Store
If you’ve walked by a Redbox machine at your local grocer and NOT checked it out yet, you could be missing one of the best opportunities to watch movies for absolutely nothing. These genius little kiosks offer movie rentals with the push of a button, and “dispense” new releases with the swipe of a credit card. If you’re planning on keeping the movie for just one night, you’re in luck! Redbox often issues discount codes good for a free rental, provided you give it back before the next 24-hour viewing period (otherwise your card will be charged for the additional time.) See the Redbox website for locations for machines near you and InsideRedbox.com for the newest free rental codes. (You’ll also want to sign up for Redbox’s email list--they often issue special codes just for subscribers.)
Blockbuster recently launched its own version of the rental kiosk. Be on the lookout for similar code offers in the future!
With so many ways to rent and watch movies, it’s no wonder the traditional movie rental store is finding it hard to compete. Watch your favorite deal sites for tips on getting the most of your favorite movie rental sites, and keep watching all your top picks--without the bloated budget of a theater.
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