The Times West Virginian

The 411

July 24, 2006

What’s the deal with Red Box?

First he was a Blockbuster customer. Then Internet DVD rental sites took off, and Rob Reardon switched to Netflix.

But when you’re a movie buff watching at least three movies a week, new ways to get them are always alluring and Reardon confesses a new love — he’s fallen for the Red Box.

“Red Box came and just blew it away,” the St. Louis dad-to-be says. “Now I’m 100 percent on Red Box.”

McDonald’s opened its first tall, red kiosks in Denver restaurants in 2004. Now the DVD rental machines are available at about 800 locations in Baltimore, Hartford, Houston, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and St. Louis. The catch and big selling point? One-dollar rentals for one night, all new releases.

That’s what caught Reardon —the price. He’s fascinated with Red Box. He’s written essays about Red Box and tried to get his friends and family members to use the Red Box, too.

“It’s nice for a while,” Reardon writes. “Renting movies, getting a quick fix. It’s cheap and a good time. You feel great. And so when you go to return the movie, you think ‘Maybe I’ll rent another one. After all, it’s only a dollar.”’

And that’s where fascination turned to addiction, he says. Reardon kept going back, renting movie after movie until there weren’t anymore in the Red Box that he hadn’t seen or wanted to see. The Red Box folks say each kiosk has between 60 and 70 titles.

“You start watching the really sub-par movies,” Reardon wrote. “Maybe a direct-to-DVD science fiction film entitled ‘Raging Sharks’, or a made-for-TV movie called ‘Caved-In: Prehistoric Terror.’ You pound on the magical Red Box screen looking for something that you haven’t already watched.”

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