If you’re the type of old school movie fan that simply must browse a shelf before deciding what you’re going to curl up and watch for the evening, then life just got a whole lot more affordable; as long as there’s still a Blockbuster open in your area. In an effort to lure customers away from the cheaper options of Netflix and Redbox, Blockbuster is set to begin offering thousands of their titles for only 99 cents a day, and is lowering prices on new release films as well. And under a new promotion, if you rent one movie priced at $2.99 a day, you will also be able to take home a film of a lesser price for free until July 4.

Putting older films at 99 cents a piece will put many of Blockbuster’s prices right in line with heated rival Redbox. Renting new releases for $2.99 still makes Blockbuster the more expensive option on the most sought after films, though. Blockbuster is still relying on exclusive deals that get them new video releases several weeks before the kiosk and mailing services to hold onto a chunk of that audience, but I just don’t know how many people aren’t willing to wait another couple weeks to get the movie cheaper. Especially in today’s entertainment climate where there are a million other things they can just go watch instead.

Blockbuster president Michael Kelly said this about their new initiative, “Our customers are seeking a better value, we’ve answered with new pricing and the flexibility of single day rentals. Our new pricing gives our customers the best of both worlds: access to the latest releases, many 28 days before Netflix and Redbox, and the most movies at low prices.” That last bit could be a key point to make when defending a brick and mortar store’s relevance against kiosks. A Blockbuster store is able to offer thousands more choices for instant access than a machine sitting in front of a building. As streaming libraries get larger and larger and more people have the capability to stream services like Netflix to their televisions, that point in Blockbuster’s favor will become moot however. Even if they can bring some Redbox fans back into the fold with cheaper prices, it seems like a temporary stopgap in the inevitable obsolescence of big chain rental stores. While I appreciate that they’ve finally lowered prices over at Blockbuster, I hope this isn’t the end of their plans to regain relevance. Acquiring the largest library of exclusive content for Blockbuster’s streaming service is the only way I can see this company being put back on top. What do you guys think about all of this? Are any of you still renting at Blockbuster? Will some of you go back there now that their prices are more competitive? And am I the only one that thinks Netflix streaming has made everything else irrelevant? [Wall Street Journal]


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