It wasn’t the biggest movie-related opening night in New York, but the debut of MoviebankUSA Inc.’s first free-standing, 24-hour movie rental site in the city was remarkable just the same.
The concept is simple: Place a vending machine in a store or open an ATM-like storefront to provide low-cost DVD rentals around the clock.
While MoviebankUSA machines had already arrived at a few Manhattan Duane Reade drug stores, the April 14 opening of the location at 71 West Houston St., just south of Greenwich Village, marked the company’s first free-standing outlet in the US.
The new outlet offers multiple computer terminals connected to a large automated DVD dispenser/return unit installed in one wall. While you don’t need a MoviebankUSA membership to rent movies, members get discounted rates. You can pay with a credit or debit card or add funds to a MoviebankUSA card.
Members can rent a DVD for six hours for 99 cents–a nice option if you live near a MoviebankUSA machine. A twenty-four hour rental is $2.50 for members (99 cents for additional days) and $3.50 for non-members ($1.50 for extra days).
While the terminals aren’t difficult to use, they do take a little getting used to. They’re not touch screens and the buttons below the screen aren’t always intuitive. You’ll have to keep an eye on the menu options as they change.
A nice feature is the ability to check on what’s available at a MoviebankUSA site before you go there. If you log into MoviebankUSA’s Web site (http://www.moviebankusa.com/) you can see what’s available at any outlet or vending machine. If you see something you like, you can place a three-hour hold on the title. This stops anyone else from scooping it up before you get there. If you don’t pick up the DVD within three hours, your account is charged $1.
Do conventional movie-rental outlets like Blockbuster have something to worry about? Maybe they do, but the limited capacity of even the largest MoviebankUSA machine means that you’re not likely to find the same choice of golden oldies as you would in a brick-and-mortar store.
Would you stumble out of your home after midnight to snag a late movie from one of these outlets if one were near you?