Why Charging $20 to Rent a Movie is Ludicrous

Due to the shut down of theaters across the country, movie studios have shifted release dates for new films and some are offering their new releases for digital rent. The problem is, some new films have up to a $20 rental fee. 

Trolls World Tour is the most recent release to be released for rent on video on demand, available on Amazon, Apple, Vudu, and cable services. Across all of these platforms the rental agreement is similar. You have 30 days to watch your movie and a 24-48 rental period once you have started it.  According to Apple TV guidelines, once you pay for a movie “ you can download this rental on one device and play it on another. This rental does not include iTunes Extras, which are only available with purchased HD movies.”

On the surface this seems like a good deal, but when we look back back to the stone age of Blockbuster, the cost to rent a movie for a night was anywhere from $2-$3 with .99 cents late fee. Redbox charges only $2 for an overnight rental. These cheap prices work great for renting because it allows you to view a new movie without the commitment of owning it outright. 

Netflix cost $8.99 for the most basic subscription while Hulu’s most basic subscription cost $5.99, so the most basic access to streaming services cost less than a new release from theaters. The truth is, the reason people are willing to pay up to $10 for a ticket to the theater is for the experience. 

Disney made Onward available to buy on video on demand before releasing it on Disney Plus, so it’s more logical to wait for it to be available on Disney Plus then to buy it digitally. All movies are destined to wind up on one streaming service or another, so it seems better to wait. If movie studios are concerned about losing profit, then they should either make their content available to own, or wait to release it until after the coronavirus pandemic has passed.