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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

question of the day: How are you changing your entertainment spending in the crashing economy?

Here’s a new daily feature, just a little something to jumpstart conversation. Today:

How are you changing your entertainment spending in the crashing economy? Downgrading your cable TV service? Staying home and watching DVDs instead of going to the multiplex? Renting DVDs instead of buying? Or choosing to economize in other areas so you can keep feeding your movie habit?

I pay for relatively few movie tickets, since I attend press screenings of films, but I’m being more judicious in what DVDs I buy — if I’m not careful and conscious about my spending, it can quickly spiral upward. That damn Preorder button on Amazon.com is so easy to abuse…

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  • bitchen frizzy

    My cable has always been limited to expanded basic. That’s gotten expensive enough that I’m considering options.

    My wife checks out movies from the library, been doing that for a while (downside is the discs are often badly scratched, but you get what you pay for). The library has TV series, too – that’s how we watched Seasons 1 and 2 of the new Dr. Who. Also, no money lost if the movie is crap.

    We can find lots of DVD’s of older movies pretty cheap in various places, both online and in stores. If it’s something we’ll watch more than once it’s often cheaper to buy it than to rent it a few times.

    We’ve pretty much limited paying full price for DVD’s to gifts for each other. Even then, we generally wait until the initial price has come down a bit. We never pre-order.

    Many fewer multiplex movies, and it has to be something that’s really good (or that we think will be good).

  • Jan Willem

    Since my student days I’ve been an inveterate buyer of second hand and discounted books and LPs. Later in life I moved on to CDs and eventually DVDs. An upsurge in my fortunes allowed me to make more first hand purchases and even use a credit card for international online shopping. However, the inheritance is running out, there’s been a drop in revenue from my translation jobs and the mortgage still needs to be paid every month, so it’s back to the second hand and discount bins. The DVD recorder also comes in very handy. (Naturally a Blu-Ray conversion is out of the question.)
    Strange to say, I’ve never been a terribly active cinema goer (more of a jazz and theatre man) and it was the arrival of the DVD that turned my attention to film. But even so I think there’s been a slight drop in my trips to the cinema and art house recently.

  • Rob

    I’ve gone to the movie theatre much less than usual. The last thing I saw at the theatre was “Australia”, which I really enjoyed, but there have been a number of films that any other time, I would have gone to see, such as “Benjamin Button” and “Milk,” but which I just can’t afford at the moment. And rather than buy everything I want on DVD, I got a Netflix subscription. For the price of about one DVD a month, I can access tons of films and TV shows. I’d been wanting to get the “Doctor Who” DVD sets for a long time (the new show), for example, but instead, I just rewatched the episodes these past two weeks by renting. Meanwhile, I only have basic cable now, no movie channels.

  • Definitely using the library a lot more. They have a lot of movies that were always on our “meant to go see this/rent this” someday list.

    So we just queued ourselves up in the hold list for those things and new things that come along that we hear of — yay for the “New on DVD” sidebar here!

    Once you get past that if you want to see something that pops into your mind, you’re going to have to bubble to the top of a long hold queue first, it’s all good. Every now and then we come to the top and have a random surprise movie from our list all ours for 3 weeks. Can’t beat that with a stick for free.

  • I just dropped my DirecTV package down to the lowest tier I’m comfortable with (that $29.99 “family” tier is complete bullshit so don’t be fooled).

  • I used to go to the movies 3-5 times a month. Now I average less than one trip to the theatre a month. There’s more than one reason for that decrease, but the biggest one is economy. I decided not to get cable, but my current flatmate gets it, so I watch it occasionally, but really not a lot of TV these days.

    I rarely buy DVDs anymore. Only if it’s something I must always have at my fingertips for a re-watch or to share with friends. I think the last DVD I bought was Death At A Funeral.

    My main source of entertainment at present is Netflix. Besides movies, DrW and Torchwood, I started exploring a lot of British shows, old and new, including old Doctor Who. I end up watching a lot of cable shows, like Weeds, on Netflix, too. I pay the same amount every month (which is about the same as 1 trip to the Movies if you count popcorn and coke), no late fees (which I’ve paid so much of in the old Blockbuster days), and there’s lots of flicks that can be watched instantly from Netflix. In fact I watched the first two seasons of 30 Rock that way.

    (Sorry for this sounding like a Netflix commercial, but it really is my almost only source of entertainment these days.)

  • eric-jon rössel waugh

    I’ve always had a taste-before-splurge approach to media purchases, partly because I have so little money to start with and partly because I don’t want to decorate my living/thinking space with stuff that’s irrelevant to me.

    If there’s a sane legal option — game demos, freely downloadable albums — I’ll take it. If not, I’ll do what I need to do. And then if I like the material enough, later on, when I’ve the money and the material is freely available, I purchase it.

    I freely downloaded Trent Reznor’s The Slip, then I went and bought a hard copy once it was available and I’d grown enough attached to it that I felt I wanted something tangible. After every year of new Doctor Who (and Torchwood and Sarah Jane) downloads, I buy the season sets.

    Since bittorrent has introduced me to Goldfrapp and Supernatural, I intend to go around and buy the respective albums and DVDs when I’ve got the dosh. Because I like the material, and I both want to support what I like and want to have it freely, concretely to hand.

    But rent comes first. Rent and food. And these days, I’ve hard put to justify much else.

  • After Battlestar Galactica ends, I’m downgrading the cable service. Like Zoetree, my main source of entertainment these days is also Netflix. I’m going to have to cut down on live theater this year, and I don’t like that one bit.

  • Paul

    reading books: check
    long walks: check
    lifting weights: check
    flirting with girls in cafes: check
    watching movies with girls: check

    Nope, my life is the same. But then, I’ve always had cheap tastes anyway.

  • Hdj

    I’m all Netflix now, it would have to be a movie that truly blew me away for me to buy it. library helps too but they don’t carry some of the obscure movies that I would prefer.

  • JasonJ

    Our entertainment and hobbies are about the same, but we have cut back on eating out, ordering pizzas, wasted trips in vehicles, buying needless crap, that sort of thing.

  • Like MaryAnn, I see movies free at the cinema for the most part (thank god), but my DVD buying has gone down dramatically. Apart from simple money issues (I always scout rental stores for second hand ones) it’s the sheer volume of DVDs I own that’s slowed me down. I simply don’t have the room any more, so I’m a lot more choosy.

    I noticed with interest when the Buffy box sets became slim line ones instead of the big boxes, a good indication that I’m not the only one with this problem.

  • Now that my freelance work has dried up, I’m going backpacking round southeast Asia for most of this year. I may end up wandering for much longer, possibly teaching English to sustain myself. So before I leave my rented flat in London I’m decluttering like mad, and this means either selling my books and DVDs on eBay or giving them to charity shops. This is less of a wrench than I thought it would be. In fact I’m forcing myself to watch many of these DVDs for the first time – most were impulse buys that have sat on my shelves for years, in some cases still shrink-wrapped.

    There’s an argument that buying a DVD is pointless if you’re not going to watch it at least seven times. That makes sense to me. This is going to sound pretentious, but I can also sympathise with the Buddhist view that material attachments only make you unhappy – although it goes against my hoarder nature.

    I’ll see far fewer movies, of course – at the moment I can see as many as I like at a UK cinema chain Cineworld by using its Unlimited Card (which costs about £15, or $25, a month). But you know what? I’m losing my enthusiasm for films too. I used to see about 100 each year on the big screen, a figure that’s now dropped to 50, and going through my old diaries I realise that a lot of those I’ve seen in recent years were either mediocre or entirely forgettable. So I’ll just have to see the stuff that interests me on DVD at some point. And watch Doctor Who via torrents or YouTube (before I buy them, as some point, as these are DVDs I WILL watch repeatedly).

  • MaryAnn

    Just an FYI: For used DVDs (and books and CDs too), you really can’t wrong with Half.com. You can get some really good deals on new or good-as-new movies.

  • Mark

    This is going to sound pretentious, but I can also sympathise with the Buddhist view that material attachments only make you unhappy

    You didn’t sound pretentious at all — but now I’m going to sound pedantic and point out that (from the Buddhist perspective) *any* kind of attachment makes you unhappy (or, at least, ensures that you will be unhappy in the future). But that’s not to say that owning things will make you unhappy. It’s perfectly OK to own things. You just shouldn’t be attached to owning them. It’s fine to have a DVD you only watch once. As long as, when it makes sense to do you, you get rid of it. As long as owning it doesn’t hurt you in other ways.

    I’m struggling with the idea of radically cutting down on my media intake for 2009 — I spend too much time watching stuff, and even though I enjoy it, it’s costing me lost opportunities for other ways to spend my time. One think I keep telling myself is that nothing I’m interested in watching is going to go away — media is only becoming more accessible, easier to obtain. To paraphrase Cory Doctorow, at this very moment obtaining and viewing TV shows and movies is as hard (and expensive) as it’s ever going to get. It will only get easier. So if I (gulp) decide not to obsessively watch Dollhouse or Torchwood and instead spend time in my workshop, I’m really not going to lose out — I can always catch up later, like I did with many other shows (my wife and I watched all ten seasons of SG-1 over two months at the start of 2008).

  • Paul

    I went through an exercise in Buddhist detachment when I had to decide what was worth mailing to my parents and what I was going to get rid of before returning to China. I had to look at each of my 1500 books and ask myself, “Am I going to read it again? I mean, really.” I culled half of them, and if I was properly detached probably would have sold 75%.

    I asked a friend of mine if she thought Buddhist detachment made romantic love impossible. For a monk, probably, but for the lay person it might help a relationship, since people are nortrious for changing and being detached from a particular form of them might allow us to let them evolve as people.

  • e

    Since my income has been fairly limited after graduating from college, I’ve cut down already. I won’t buy a dvd unless I really really want it (dark knight cough cough), I use netflix, and get the most out of my internet connection.

    I’m really tired of rising theatre prices. So I don’t know if it’s matinee breaking the 7 dollar mark (I suppose that’s cheap for matinee in larger cities), or the economy, but I don’t go as much anymore. Which sucks, because unlike my friends, I would rather go to the theatre over DVD for nearly any movie.

  • MaryAnn

    So I don’t know if it’s matinee breaking the 7 dollar mark (I suppose that’s cheap for matinee in larger cities),

    There are no bargain matinees in New York City. It’s the same price no matter what time of day you go — and these days, it’s around $12.

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