Wednesday, August 31, 2005

GameZnFlix Unveils $8.99 Plan and Lowers Prices

From the press release: "FRANKLIN, Ken., Aug. 30, 2005 (PRIMEZONE) -- GameZnFlix Inc. (OTCBB:GZFX), an online provider of DVDs and video games for rent or purchase, today announced its new $8.99 and $12.99 per month plans. In addition, the company's most popular plan, 3-out at a time, has been lowered to $16.99. All plans offered by the company include no late fees and no shipping charges.

'Our members have been asking for more flexibility in our plans,' said Donald 'Chip' Gallent, president of GameZnFlix. 'We already offer a more flexible inventory by stocking both DVDs and Games -- now we're giving them more plans to accommodate their needs.'"

Blockbuster wins The Times and Democrat comparison

The Times and Democrat of South Carolina compared Netflix with Blockbuster, and the wrong company won :). The review is written by a guy who likes collecting DVDs and going to the store, so he likes the in-store rental and sales coupons, and says,

The only two improvements I think that could be made are:

1. Include some way to combine my in-store renting habits with my Blockbuster Online habits in a better fashion than two free in-store rentals per month.

2. Show the price to keep the movie in the form of a sticker on the case of the rental box.

A map to the most buried of cinematic treasures

SCOTT FOUNDAS, writing for the LA Weekly, knows how to find the movies that just aren't available anywhere else. Movies that are not available on DVD or out-of-print on VHS in the USA, or have never been to a theatre near you, and never will. These are the links to the sources he suggests:

Turner Classic Movies has the MGM archives
Fox Movie Channel has the 20th Century Fox archives
Facets Multimedia has an archive of out-of-print VHS and rents by mail
Film Movement distributes exclusive films on DVD by mail
Five Minutes to Live does DVD-R
Roberts Videos does mail-order
Super Happy Fun has mostly foreign titles
Masters of Cinema keeps track of release dates

You can read the article here to discover how and why these are the great sources for rare cinema.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Stewie Griffin is Saddam Hussein!


Stewie Griffin is Saddam Hussein!
Originally uploaded by witz.
Netflix is hosting an exclusive sneak peak of the Family Guy animated movie. Thanks to Witz for Flickring this. See it here.

New Jackson, MS DC

Mark, on the Yahoo! Netflix Operations discussion group, has received envelopes showing that Netflix has opened a new distribution center in Jackson, Mississippi.

You'll see Blockbuster Online at MTV's Video Music Awards

At MTV's Video Music Awards, "The performers, presenters and Diddy will each receive a $26,000 gift basket courtesy of the network. Included in the goody bag: an iPod shuffle, a two-night stay at The Inn at Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina, a two-year VIP Blockbuster Online membership, a Dooney & Bourke travel bag, Jose Cuervo limited-edition tequila and an Americana Couture T-shirt bejeweled with Swarovski crystals."

What I'd like to know is, what's a VIP membership to Blockbuster Online?

Via PennLive.com

Postal workers charged with theft of Netflix DVDs

Via the Detroit News:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Gorland, chief of general crimes in Detroit, said her office has prosecuted two postal employees in the last year for stealing DVDs from the Internet video rental company Netflix.

"The Postal Service takes very seriously the theft of all mail. It is a zero-tolerance policy," Gorland said, "whether it's coupons or checks."

More than 690 million pieces of mail handled by the U.S. Postal Service travel across the country every day.

William Wrack admitted to stealing more than 400 DVDs over a three-month period worth $8,840 that were destined for delivery to about 122 customers in southeast Michigan. He pleaded guilty in May was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John Feikens to two years probation and ordered to pay $1,100 in fines and costs.

Peerflix promo: rent 100 titles free

Peerflix is running a new promotion:

Upon registering, receive 100 trade credits allowing you to receive 100 movies from another Peerflix user - free. Take a look and let me know what you think. You must go through this link only.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Netflix=film school

Ryan Dacko says:

...you can learn filmmaking from actual professionals in the industry by watching 50 different DVD commentaries and behind-the-scenes features. By taking notes and cross referencing them with a few books out on the market, you basically can put yourself through your own film school at your own pace for just a one-month $17 membership to Netflix - it sure beats $12,500 for one semester of the New York Film Academy. What follows is the advice from Robert Rodriguez: "now take the money you would have spent on film school and then make a movie with it."
via filmthreat.com

That's what I'm sayin'

Friday, August 26, 2005

Wots in my man pur... er I mean Messenger Bag

This is not my bag, but I would be very proud if the contents of my bag included Netflix. Which it does, several times a week. This photo is part of a Flickr group called What's in my bag

I've quit Greencine, again

I last re-joined Greencine this Summer when I started the decade of the Sixties on my quest to see the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die (in chronological order). Greencine was unable to fulfill my request for The Music Room [Jalsaghar] (1958) , Last Year at Marienbad (1961), and Breaking the Waves (1996) after months of waiting, and my billing anniversary approached, so I quit. I'll have to find another source for those titles.

More new Netflix distribution centers

Commenters on Hacking Netflix have seen envelopes for the following heretofore unknown Netflix distribution centers:

Little Rock, AR
Brockton, MA
Wichita, KS

Thursday, August 25, 2005

NETFLIX CHOCK FULL OF "COURAGE & STUPIDITY"

Yes, I stole their headline, 'cause it's funny. Now I'm going to steal their story. Film Threat reported on July 25 that "Courage & Stupidity," a fictional retelling of the making of "Jaws," has become the first short film ever to be offered as a stand-alone rental through NetFlix."

Read their review

E! Interviewed James Rocchi

Although this interview from E! Online is as old as dirt, but I think it's interesting to note what the official Netflix reviewer says about his role on Netflix.com:

A: "I think that reviewing films on the site is completely separate from the bottom line -- we run positive and negative reviews of films because we care about movies and want folks to be able to read historical and critical information about them; we also run customer reviews as well, both positive and negative. In terms of the overall feel of the site, I think its much preferable for Netflix to care about movies and articulate opinions about them than it is for us to grit our teeth and say "It's great. ... It's great. ... It's great...." about every movie we carry. And, I'm also not kidding myself. Do I think my negative review of Independence Day will keep people from renting it? Absolutely not. Do I like to think that after reading that review, someone might think about why someone might have disdain for Independence Day? Absolutely."

Q: Although I never rented it from Blockbuster, a friend of mine claims that "Last Tango in Paris" was edited for rental in that store--a critical scene (you know the one) was allegedly cut. Does Netflix.com let it all hang out and give the viewer the real deal or what?

A: We at Netflix don't carry "adult material" -- which is to say, porn. But when it comes to a saucy narrative film, like, say Crash or Quills or Henry and June or Last Tango in Paris, we offer the version the studio puts out, every time, no qualms or caveats.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

New Netflix distribution centers discovered

There are (new?) Netflix distribution centers in San Bernardino, CA and in Springfield, IL, as discovered by contributors to the Yahoo! Netflix Operations discussion group, according to the addresses on their return envelopes.

The Movie Dude



The Movie Dude is a Greasemonkey script you can use to crosslink movies between sites such as NetFlix, IMDb, Yahoo, Blockbuster, Rotten Tomatoes and Roger Ebert.

Netflix wins Flickr tag fight

Go to flickr Tag Fight. Insert one tag per field, ie: Netflix vs. Blockbuster. See who wins. Because you know this indicates which is the best online DVD rental service EVER.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Netflix is Too Pretty For Math

The sister-girls at Too Pretty For Math blog, have written some Netflix HaiQueue. Here's a sample:

The Upside of Anger
Surprisingly great
movie. Costner stoned is the
best part of it all.
- Cindy

Read more

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Amazon Light 4.0 no longer links to Netflix

This is a follow-up to this January post. Amazon sent a letter to the author of Amazon Light 4.0, requesting that all links to Netflix be removed.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Reed Hastings and his bike


I almost killed a Kennedy
Originally uploaded by jurvetson.
I'm not a fan of Netflix only. I'm a fan of Reed Hastings. Here he is on a mountain-biking excursion with some famous folks.

To Join Or Not To Join Price Clubs

The CBS news Early Show got this story from Real Simple magazine [subscribers only].

Online DVD clubs

You should join if: You rent more than 52 DVDs a year; you're often late returning rentals; or you have trouble finding the movies you want at the local store. You make your selections online and the service mails your DVDs. You simply return via mail using the postage-paid envelopes.

Options:

Netflix is one of the most popular DVD clubs. It's the least expensive. A fee of $10 a month lets you rent one DVD at a time and keep it as long as you like. For $15 a month, you get unlimited two-at-a-time rentals. Real Simple believes though that you really need to rent 40, 50, 60 or even 72 DVDs for these memberships to be cost effective. www.netflix.com.


Blockbuster Online is another option. You pay $15 a month. To be cost effective, you need to rent at least 60 DVDs a year for it to be cost-effective. Blockbuster Online allows you to rent three movies at a time and keep them as long as you like. www.blockbuster.com.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Netflix Subscription for 3 months for $30 on eBay

eBay: Netflix Subscription (item 5607915791 end time Aug-25-05 07:34:00 PDT). That's $10/month for the 3-out plan at the "buy it now" price.

LLOYD CLOCKS IN ON DVD

Shorts, features unavailable for nearly a century
By Scott Hettrick 8/12/2005
Via DVD Exclusive Online:
"Talk about overdue.

Almost the entire collection of shorts and feature films of cinematic comedy legend Harold Lloyd finally will be released on DVD--some of them virtually unavailable on home video, TV and even movie theaters for nearly a century.

The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, a three-volume, seven-disc set coming Nov. 15 ($89.95), includes 12 feature films and 16 shorts, all digitally remastered, restored and rescored, with optional original organ scores for three of the silent features that have never been heard.

In addition to hours of bonus features on each disc chronicling Lloyd's career and personal life, a stand-alone disc of bonus features includes home movies and more than 100 3D photos taken by Lloyd of Marilyn Monroe and landscapes as well as 3D photos of Lloyd on the Golden Gate Bridge and the Eiffel Tower. Lloyd-like framed 3D glasses are included.

Producer Mark Gordon describes plans for the remake of Lloyd's most famous film, Safety Last!, which is in development."

Direct-to-videos rising straight up

Because DVD is a high quality format being adopted by more and more people, the audience is becoming broader and more diverse. Netflix enables everyone to find movies that fit their unique taste. We don't all have to like the same things anymore.

Netflix is becoming a major distributor of independent films, releasing them first and exclusively on DVD. It used to be that direct-to-video films had a bad reputation as being lower quality, but as more and more artsy-fartsy films go straight to DVD, that reputation is changing. If they can release their films on DVD, filmmakers don't have to worry about making big boxoffice movies for the mainstream. They don't have to compromise their artistic vision in order to find an audience, so the financial risks are lessened.

Via The Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Red Room DVD

Australian DVD store Red Room DVD combines Blockbuster's "no late fees" (after 14 days you pay for it) with the Red Box kiosk concept. They have a slick, flashy Web site. It has all the downside of a store: limited content, having to physically pick up and return your discs, and due dates, but with the video shelves replaced by a kiosk.

I'm looking forward to a "kiosk" (on my desk) which will burn DVDs on demand from an unlimited supply of content delivered by the Internet.

Netflix First presents five films from Magnolia Pictures

I received the following in an email from Netflix:

As part of the Netflix First program -- which gives you early access to unique independent movies, documentaries and more -- we're excited to tell you about these five films from Magnolia Pictures, now available exclusively on DVD for Netflix subscribers:

Bollywood/Hollywood (add to top of your queue) This sly send-up of Indian movie musical conventions follows a handsome young hero (Rahul Khanna) at odds with his traditionalist family over his plans to marry a Canadian pop star (Jessica Pare). Will he give in and choose a mate more suitable to his family's high standards?

Oliver Stone Presents:
Bang Rajan (add to top of your queue) Oliver Stone helped bring this oft-forgotten story -- about a small band of 18th century Thai villagers who stood their ground against the invading Burmese army -- to U.S. theaters. Armed with only machetes, the brave few were up against an army of 100,000.


On the Run: Trilogy 1(add to top of your queue)The first film in director Lucas Belvaux’s award-winning trilogy traces the path of prison escapee Bruno (Belvaux), who sets out to exact revenge on those responsible for landing him in jail. But as he hunts down his enemies, he must also avoid capture by troubled cop Pascal (Gilbert Melki).


An Amazing Couple: Trilogy 2 (add to top of your queue)Belvaux's second film finds successful businessman Alain (Fran├žois Morel) spiraling into an unknown abyss, sure that he’s gravely ill. When his behavior becomes more bizarre with each passing day, his wife (Ornella Muti) hires Pascal to look into his comings and goings -- which only makes matters worse.

After the Life: Trilogy 3 (add to top of your queue)This final installment of Belvaux’s dramatic trilogy tells Pascal’s story from his own perspective as he struggles to relate to his morphine-addicted wife (Dominique Blanc) and to capture a prisoner on the loose.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A list of all TV shows available on DVD

Here's another handy Web site to help you fill your Netflix queue. The futon critic, which claims to be "the web's best primetime television resource", has a list of all TV shows available on DVD.

Aleratec DVD/CD Disc Repair Plus

Discs that won't play because of fingerprint smudges or even peanut butter can be cleaned with simple soap and water. What about badly scratched discs that skip, freeze, or stutter, and still won't play after you've tried cleaning them?



I wonder if Netflix would mind us using a device like this Aleratec DVD/CD Disc Repair Plus, instead of waiting for a replacement to arrive in the mail?

Hacking Netflix has a story on scratched discs from Netflix today.

Netflix now makes full rental history available

Used to be that you could get only the last 3 months of your rental activity by email from Netflix. They've since changed it, but I discovered the change only today.

From the Netflix FAQ:
Q: Can I see a list of all the movies I've rented?
A: You can view all movies rented within the past 3 months on the DVD Rental Activity page.
To see a list of all the movies you've ever rented, click on the Send Full Rental Activity button at the bottom of the DVD Rental Activity page. We'll send your entire movie rental return activity to the email address we have on file for you.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Despite its Recent Declines, Renting a Video is still America's Favorite Way to Watch a Movie

According to this report by Research and Markets, titled The Future of Video Rental: A Strategic Analysis of the US Market:

Traditional video rentals in the US plunged more than 20% from their 2001 peak to 2004 and retailers are scrambling to adapt. Can stores get revenue growing again with subscription plans, games sales, rentals and expansion of their share of the robust DVD sales market?

With this report find out:

- How big can the subscription rental business become?

- What will be the impact of online rentals, VOD and movie downloads?

- Can used DVD sales carve out a significant chunk of the business?

- Can video stores capture a significant piece of sell-through in the years ahead?

- How big a factor will games be in the future of video stores?

- What would be the impact on the business of Hollywood's sales to Blockbuster? To Movie Gallery?

Despite its recent declines, renting a video is still America's favorite way to watch a movie, as evidenced by the comparison of annual rental turns vs. box admissions, video sales and VOD/PPV rentals below. By building on existing strategies and undertaking new ones, video rental stores can reinvent themselves yet again.

Topics covered include:

- History

- The Subscription Revolution

- The Rental Store of the Future

- The Changing Retail Marketplace

- New Technology: Threats & Opportunities for Retailers

- Video Rental's Impact on Studio Economics

- Findings from the AMR Video Model

For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c22516

Research and Markets
Laura Wood
Senior Manager
press@researchandmarkets.com
Fax: +353 1 4100 980

Friday, August 12, 2005

Exclusive pics of TiVo Download

Engadget has "Exclusive pics of TiVo Download." Where's the Netflix?!

It looks like they're letting you download the same stuff that Netflix offered Mike to rent on a "sneak preview DVD."

Update: Now that the Associated Press has picked up the story, it's no longer gossip and has crossed over into news:

"TiVo has struck a deal with the Independent Film Channel to transmit several of the cable channel's shows through a broadband connection as part of a trial program. A group of customers were asked to take part in the test and those who chose to participate will begin receiving the IFC shows next week, said TiVo spokesman Elliot Sloane.

Content on demand has long been a holy grail for Internet and cable companies as they try to create the next generation of television. No one yet has found a way to overcome key technological hurdles, such as finding a speedy way to pump two-hour movies through broadband, or convince Hollywood that it can profit from Internet broadcasts."
Via the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer

Netflix Addict 0.5 is now available for download

Netflix Addict 0.5 is now available for download. This version includes access to Netflix RSS feeds and several bug fixes and performance improvements. Be sure to upgrade from any older versions.

Netflix Addict is an open-source application released under the GPL. It is a platform independent application written in Java. Netflix Addict is a client that allows users to access and manage their Netflix account. It provides capabilities similar to Netflix Freak which is currently only available to Mac OS X users.

Features
Ways to reorder your rental queue: Drag and Drop, Shuffle, Reverse, Move Title to Top/Bottom
Add multiple titles to rental queue at once.
Delete multiple titles to rental queue at once.
Fast search of titles available from Netflix.
Access to Netflix RSS feeds including, Recommendations and Top 100.
Single window access to all queues.
Import and view entire rental history.

More Praise for Netflix

Bil Herron writes:

By now it seems everyone has raved about Netflix, but I just had a surprisingly excellent experience with them so I thought I'd share.

As you can imagine, having the the US Postal Service as the major link in your logistics chain can lead to some lost packages and missed deliveries, and a potential source of a lot of customer dissatisfaction. And in fact, this past week I had one such lost dvd problem.

So what happens when Spiderman 2 never arrives at your domicile? Within two clicks I had another copy on its way and that was that. Two questions (no typing!) and that was that. Very easy. Good Netflix.
Via A Cry for Help

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Walletbuster Video


Walletbuster Video
Originally uploaded by  Smaragd.
"Welcome to Walletbuster Video. See this $18 DVD? We'll let you borrow it for a few nights for slightly less than it would cost to purchase it for yourself. And have we told you about our great new program which will make your rentals negligably cheaper, so long as you rent at least twelve movies every week, without exception? Oh, and if you're one of those people who returns movies on time, now you get to pay the late fees for the people who don't! That's right, we're raising prices on the responsible people in order to accommodate the irresponsible ones!"

Too true!!

King Kong news

After a very long wait, Netflix has the original King Kong (1933) available to save to your queue for release on DVD on November 22.

Netflix also has the 2005 remake of King Kong which will be in theatres December 14. Of course, all you can do at this point is save it to your queue, as the release date for DVD is still unknown.

Here it is, August, and already people are posting Netflix Member Reviews for the new King Kong, even though no one, not even director Peter Jackson, has seen the completed film. Some are using their Member Review as a type of message board, voicing support for the movie, claiming to have seen it already(?!), or condemning it without having seen it at all!

New Netflix Shipping Center in Dayton, OH

Hacking NetFlix reader Zach is reporting that there's a new Netflix distribution center in Dayton, Ohio. If you live in Southern Ohio, Kentucky, or Southern Indiana, this should speed up shipping times for you.

This may mean they re-opened a shipping center that was previously closed, because Listology's Netflix Tracker already had Dayton on the list as being combined with Indianapolis, IN/Bowling Green, KY/Louisville, KY. Are there still centers in those cities?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What happens to your queue if you cancel Netflix?

I emailed Netflix customer service with this question, since I couldn't find the answer using online help. This is the reply I received today:

Dear Becky,

Thank you for contacting Netflix.com customer support!

If you rejoin within 2 years of cancellation your rental queue will be restored automatically.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

Thanks,
Jo-Lynn,
Netflix Customer Service.

Tivo fixin' to offer downloadable content?

Looks like Tivo is preparing to offer downloadable content, according to changes to their privacy policy. This could be related to the deal they made with Netflix last year. Perhaps Netflix will be providing some of the content to be downloaded?

Via PVRblog.

Get a free DiscHub for signing up with Netflix!

Sign up at the DiscHub site.

I usually stack my Netflix DVDs on the TV, where they often fall off and then are in danger of being stepped on, or eaten by my dog. I should probably use DiscHub, a scratch-free storage option for Games/DVDs/CDs.

Notice: I haven't received any promotional incentive for this post.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Blockbuster to raise online rental prices


Via Yahoo! News
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Blockbuster Inc. (NYSE:BBI - news) on Tuesday said it was raising subscription prices for its online service as it expands the business that competes with Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq:NFLX - news)

The monthly price for a plan that lets customers have three movies out will increase to $17.99 from $14.99 as of Aug, 19.
Delicious irony.

The best way to cancel

You should use this method to cancel any online DVD rental subscription service, not just Netflix. I know that Netflix gives you seven days to return your outstanding rentals, but sometimes they do not receive all your returns. I suggest cancelling in three steps, to be sure you do not get charged for failing to return something after you've cancelled.

1. Empty your queue.* This stops them from shipping anything else.
2. Return everything you have out. This shouldn't take more than a week.
3. Check the Netflix site to make sure they've received them. Save the confirmation emails.
4. Cancel!

That's the only way I know of to prevent this sort of thing from happening.

All cancellations are effective immediately, and there are no refunds for unused portions of your billing cycle.

* Netflix saves your queue if you cancel, but not if you empty it first. If you really, really love your queue and want to keep it, upload it to Listology.com first. You'll need to add it in manually if you ever re-subscribe.

Netflix fixin' to move to new, bigger headquarters

MercuryNews.com | 08/02/2005 | What's Up with That?
Where it is: 14300 Winchester Blvd., Los Gatos

What it is: New Netflix headquarters

What's going on: Construction is on track for Netflix to ring in 2006 in its new 80,000-square-foot building, the first phase of a project that eventually will have a second building the same size. Sobrato Development Companies also is building 290 apartments on the site; they'll be done in about a year and half.

Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey said the three-story building is designed with the movie-rental company's open corporate culture in mind. In other words, don't bother looking for the lavish executive offices -- the big cheeses will be in cubicles just like everybody else.

``We are a Silicon Valley company that's very creative and innovative and collegial, and we don't want to lose that as we grow,'' Swasey said. ``The way you keep that is to tear away all the superfluous stuff.''

The cube-dwellers will have plenty of room to collaborate in 44 conference rooms. For private phone calls, there will be ``touchdown rooms'' with a phone and a desk.

``It's like a nice, spacious, sit-down, luxurious phone booth,'' Swasey said.

The current headquarters on University Avenue in Los Gatos has about 200 employees. The new building will have room for about 320.
Via Hacking Netflix.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Netflix on her cat!


Mickey hearts Netflix
Originally uploaded by SueBanks.
See Stuff On My Cat for the inspiration behind this photo.

Video-game rental sites put to the test

The Orange County Register reviews online video-game rental sites GPlay, Gamelender, RentZero, GameFly, and Intelliflix regarding selection, customer service, and delivery. Read it.. I didn't see a clear winner. If you've tried any of these, which would you recommend?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Don't panic...I'm back

It's just a coincidence that Mike at Hacking Netflix and I had back-to-back vacations from blogging AND that we both spent our time off camping, he at the beach, and I at the Grand Canyon.

I'll be posting more fresh gossip and news about Netflix as soon as I unpack!