November 24, 2003

Machines Vend Movie Rentals

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Trips to off-campus video rental stores may no longer be necessary for campus-bound students. Cornell is the first university in the United States to make available to its students MovieBox, move-rental vending machines, which up until now have mainly been used overseas.

MovieBox is a diverse library of over 300 movies, updated weekly with the latest releases and accessible 24-hours a day without students having to leave the campus.

“I think it’s great! The newest movies are out. I don’t have to pay the $8.25 at the theater if I wait a few weeks. It’s a great deal and it’s relatively cheap. I get to sit in my room and be comfortable — no traveling,” said Richard Freeman ’06.

There are two MovieBox machines located on Cornell’s campus. In late September, the first was placed in Robert Purcell Community Center and in mid-October the second was placed in Noyes Community Center — these locations chosen because of their exposure to students.

Pricing for MovieBox rentals are comparable to those of video stores. A 24-hour rental costs $3.75 plus tax, equaling to about $4.05. Hits and new releases are available in both DVD and VHS formats. Current popular hits include Basketball Diaries, Poolhall Junkies, Punch Drunk Love and Gangs of New York. Current new releases include Bruce Almighty, Finding Nemo, The Italian Job and Hulk.

The catch? Only those with credit cards need apply. The reasoning behind this is simple — as it ensures the proper return of the movies. If a movie is not returned on time, a late fee of $3.75 per day is assessed. Once a movie becomes ten days overdue, a $50 fee is assessed and the movie is no longer required to be returned. Each machine has a collect and return slot.

John Riva, business manager of student services at Cornell, authorized the installation of these machines. Each machine typically retails for $20,000 and was purchased from a privately owned company, Movies Around the Clock, which offers the service of fully computerized movie-rental vending machines to universities throughout the East Coast. The benefit of the service is of no additional cost to the university.

“It’s like managing a small store without having anyone work for you,” said Yoni Hornik, owner of Movies Around the Clock.

MovieBox was designed 15 years ago in Europe. The production manufacturers are located in Israel and Europe. Although MovieBox is new to the United States, countries such as Portugal, Norway and England have been enjoying these machines since their conception. Movies Around the Clock acquires its films from Ingram Entertainment, a distributor that works with movie studios such as 20th Century Fox, Touchstone Home Entertainment and others.

A contact number on the machine directs customers to technical support available around the clock.

“Customers should know these machines are 100 percent safe and 100 percent satisfaction is guaranteed,” Hornik assured. “We are happy to be at Cornell. It’s the best university to launch our product in the United States.”

MovieBox is a recent addition to the campuses of Rutgers University and Central Connecticut State University and is being considered by other Ivy League institutions. Beginning next week, MovieBox will offer sales and promotions for the holidays. Students will be able to rent movies at discounted prices, ranging from 50-60 percent off, from Sunday night through Thursday.

Archived article by Anne Ceccarini