LOS ANGELES (AP) – The company that runs Blockbuster Express kiosks is testing whether people will pay more to rent DVDs and Blu-ray discs of new movies 28 days before they are available from other vending machines.
On Tuesday, NCR Corp. began charging $2.99 for one night's rental of a DVD of Warner Bros.' "Inception" and 20th Century Fox's "Knight and Day" at about 900 kiosks in San Francisco, Phoenix, Miami and Atlanta.
That's more than the $1 per night for other DVDs, but the consumer would get access to films a few weeks earlier. Blu-ray rentals in the test cost $3.99 for the first night. Each subsequent night will cost $1.
"Inception" is being made available the same day it was released in the home video market for sale. "Knight and Day" was made available for sale a week ago.
The test comes at the same time Blockbuster is rolling out an ad campaign dubbed "Less Waiting. More Watching." Both moves tap into a gap created when some studios began imposing 28-day delays between disc sales and rentals via kiosks such as Coinstar's Redbox and mail-order service Netflix. DVD sales have been falling, and studios imposed the delay to prevent a more serious decline.
"If I want to watch that specific movie, for a couple bucks more it's worth it," said Justin Hotard, vice president of NCR Entertainment. "It gives me the choice to make it the movie night I want to make it."
The test continues with "The A-Team" next Tuesday and "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" the following week.
The price is closer to what brick-and-mortar video rental stores charge, but competition from mail-order companies, kiosks and Internet delivery firms has caused outlet closures, making such stores harder to find.
Blockbuster, once a dominant video rental store operator, itself is in the midst of restructuring under bankruptcy protection as it seeks to compete with methods of delivery that don't require walking through aisles to rent a movie.