Jakarta

Video rental stores survive
in digital era

Under siege: A customer considers renting a DVD at Star Disc video rental store in Jagakarsa, South Jakarta, on Thursday. Video rental stores in Jakarta say they are suffering from the growing popularity of illegal Internet downloading. (JP/Nadya Natahadibrata)
Under siege: A customer considers renting a DVD at Star Disc video rental store in Jagakarsa, South Jakarta, on Thursday. Video rental stores in Jakarta say they are suffering from the growing popularity of illegal Internet downloading. (JP/Nadya Natahadibrata)

Did the Internet kill the video rental store? Apparently, not yet.

Amid the popularity of downloading movies from the Internet and booming sales of pirated DVDs in the country, a limited number of Jakartans still prefer to rent original movies, judging from the surprising survival of video rental stores in the capital.

Yulianto, 25, entered Video Club, a DVD rental store in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta, on Thursday morning. He was looking for a copy of the critically acclaimed local action movie The Raid.

“I usually watch movies in theaters, but if I didn’t have the time to go to the theater, I come here [to Video Club], because I don’t have to worry about the quality of the picture if watch an original copy,” Yulianto told The Jakarta Post.

The Raid was apparently out of stock, but he told the shopkeeper to keep him posted should it become available.

He said that he preferred to pay Rp 6,000 (62 US cents) to rent an original DVD rather than download the movie from the Internet or buy an pirated DVD for Rp 7,000, despite the negligible difference in price.

“I feel kind of guilty watching movies from pirated discs, especially if the movies are Indonesian,” he said.

Formerly a Video Ezy franchise store, Video Club currently rents a total of 3,500 movies. In 2011, the owner decided to stop franchising and set up his own store.

“The owner decided to transform the store into Video Club because it’s faster to buy the movies himself,” said Video Club storekeeper Tini Suprihatin.

According to Tini, Video Ezy did not update its film collection as often as is used to, because many of the franchise stores were closing down due to the shrinking number of customers. She said that it became a problem when the store still wanted to maintain its customer base.

“A lot of our current members are workers. Back in the day, our members were mostly students. But nowadays, students have their own ways to get the latest movies. They can easily download them from the Internet,” she said.

The rental store first opened in 2001, she said, and used to have 15,000 active members. Today, roughly 2,000 remained, she said.

According to Video Ezy Indonesia operation manager Michelle Darmawan, there are currently 50 Video Ezy franchise stores in the country, eight of which are situated in Greater Jakarta. The number shrank from 110 franchise stores nationwide in early 2011.

“We have to admit that we are struggling amid this booming movie piracy industry in the country, especially when the law is definitely not working,” Michelle said.

“The only way to maintain our customer base is by campaigning and creating public awareness through social media, so more people will respect other people’s works of art by spending their money on renting an original DVD with a high-quality picture in our stores.”

One of Video Ezy franchise store owner, Astrada, said that although the video rental business was facing a serious threat from the booming sales of pirated DVDs and Internet downloading, he still found it profitable.

“Our monthly income is Rp 6 million, and I still find it quite profitable,” Astrada told the Post on Friday.

Astrada said that there were approximately 15 to 20 members who visited his store in Pondok Kacang, South Tangerang to rent movies on a daily basis. “They usually borrow five to 10 movies per visit,” he said.

One of the regular customers at Astrada’s Video Ezy store, Triono, 22, said that he had never bought a pirated DVD in his whole life and preferred to rent original DVDs.

“I go to DVD rental stores every time I want to watch a movie that I haven’t seen in the theater. I don’t know why, but I feel more comfortable renting original movies than buying pirated ones,” he said.

Meanwhile, Star Disc, a DVD and VCD rental store in Jagakarsa, South Jakarta, is also struggling to stay in business and maintain its customer base.

“I know that this business might be dead in, maybe, three years time, but I still try to maintain my customers by calling them on the phone whenever we have new movies,” said Toni Trianto, the owner of Star Disc. “I realize that it’s highly unlikely that we will have new members,” he said. (nad)

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