As more students turn to online sites for a cheaper way to watch movies, local theaters and movie rental stores might be hit by the shift.
More than 27 million U.S. customers are subscribed to Netflix, according to Netflix’s 2012 financial statement released last week. The number of customers increased by more than 2 million between its third and fourth quarters in 2012, and rose by 5.48 million since the fourth quarter in 2011.
Brian Ballast, district manager for the Lansing-area Family Video, said many of the customers of the Family Video locations in Lansing are MSU or Lansing Community College students.
But the number of young movie renters might dwindle as Netflix rises in popularity.
Zoology junior Kelly Sweeney said going to the movies is both inconvenient and costly.
Sweeney said she likes Netflix because she pays about $8 per month and is able to watch as many movies as she wants. This is about the same price as a single movie ticket.
“Sometimes it’s just so expensive — you spend $20 just for popcorn,” Sweeney said. “I can find other ways to spend $20, or go to the movies for a couple hours.”
Tom Leach, owner of Video to Go, 300 N. Clippert St., Suite 18, in Lansing, said the number of rentals has been decreasing gradually as online options increase.
“It’s changed quite a bit over the past few years,” Leach said. “Streaming (videos are) affecting more (of) our newer releases compared to our older products.”
Redbox is another popular system used to rent movies, where customers can reserve a movie online and pick it up a Redbox kiosk, which are located in many grocery and convenience stores.
According to The Numbers box office data, the amount of movie theater tickets sold increased from 1.30 to 1.37 billion from 2011-2012, and the projected total for 2013 is 1.43 billion.
Despite new technology, local theaters and movie rental businesses still offer some incentives to keep students interested.
Leach said Video to Go’s more than 30,000 movies and unique selections, including Shakespeare and a Criterion Collection, are what keep customers coming to the store.
Ballast said Family Video hasn’t seen a dramatic decrease in the number of customers.
“I think a lot of people still like to come in and have interactions with our staff and we can provide a lot of information,” Ballast said. “We also get movies the day they come out, (and with) Netflix or Redbox, you have to wait (about) 30 days after the movie comes out to get it.”
And unless a movie is pirated, the theaters and movie stores are the first to get the movies, said Patrick O’Boyle, promotions and marketing manager for NCG Cinemas.
“Students and young people in general want to see movies first,” O’Boyle said. “Other than illegal pirated movies, theaters are the places where they see movies like Harry Potter and ‘‘‘The Hunger Games.’”