What do you do when you're competing against giants who are already entrenched in your industry? You find a niche, and that's exactly what the folks at GreenCine have done. GreenCine offers an eclectic mix of blockbuster hits, cult classics, independent and foreign films, and other titles not available through other services. Think of them as that trendy video store in the city run by the nerdy movie nut who can tell you last year's Sundance winners.
Based in San Francisco, GreenCine is an enticing alternative to overly commercialized leaders in the space. Based on their philosophy that "movies matter", they've put their heart and soul into building a site for movie geeks, by movie geeks. The site is filled with personal touches and their genuine love for movies shows. With hard to find titles to a growing community of educated film fans, they're rapidly emerging as a major player in the online DVD rental market.
GreenCine has the largest inventory of independent, international, and documentary films in the country. They focus and succeed on offering the hard to find films that can't be found on any other rental service. From cult classics, foreign favorites, to one of the largest anime collections we've ever seen, you'll be blown away by their wide selection of 250 genres and subgenres. It's a movie lover's dream and perfect for anyone looking to broaden their film landscape. Hollywood fans shouldn't skip them either as they offer just about all the major studio releases from Borat to the latest Will Ferrell flick. You will find a slight drop in some of the middle of the road mainstream movies from 5-10 years ago however. It's also worth noting they also have a large adult section that is unmatched by other mainstream companies.
One of the unique aspects in renting from GreenCine is the ability to get versions of DVDs that would otherwise not be available in the country. This includes unrated versions that companies like Blockbuster do not offer. If you have a Region 0 DVD player (or know how to hack a Region 1 into one), you'll find a goldmine of foreign versions that offer uncensored scenes, additional commentary, and often times extras that the U.S. versions had to leave out. There is a multitude of rare TV shows, B-movies, old classics and out of print discs available for rent on GreenCine too. Essentially, if you're looking to broaden your movie watching horizons, GreenCine is the place to be.
Our knocks on GreenCine's inventory is that sometimes there can be a short wait on a film. With the sheer volume of rare titles they offer, it's a bit difficult to expect them to carry multiple copies of some rarer movies. This wasn't the norm though, just something we noticed here and there with some films. They also don't have much of a selection of Blu-Ray/HD-DVD videos (although the rare movies they specialize in would not have that format).
Besides their stellar inventory, GreenCine excels in their membership features. They have built a community of sorts around their site that features an award winning blog (daily.greencine.com), director/actor interviews, and other engaging topics and features related to the film industry. There are active polls, a lively discussion forum, and insightful user reviews that spark debates on movies new and old. It has much more of a personal feel than anything you'd find at a site like Netflix or Blockbuster where you're just another number. The GreenCine community is passionate and will turn you on to new areas of film that you'd otherwise never know about.
We're also shocked at how engaged the company is with their members. Besides having the best customer service we've come across yet, they're actively blogging and posting on forums looking for suggestions or explaining ongoing issues. The community is smart, savvy, and informational. You'll learn a ton about movies just by clicking around the site a bit.
Finding movies is a breeze as they've broken down their inventory into genres and subgenres (250 in all). Categories such as video game inspired and SNL alums make it fun to browse. If you're having trouble finding something, there's plenty of help throughout the site. You can sort by user or MPAA rating, or checkout one of their comprehensive lists that range from Sundance winners to most popular rentals. The GreenCine Guru Reviews is a comprehensive movie review blog that focuses on some of the sleepers in the film industry.
With video-on-demand becoming the hot new thing in movie renting these days, GreenCine doesn't disappoint. They've got a selection of over 10,000 titles that can be streamed through your computer at anytime. When it comes to DVDs, members can actively request titles not available and GreenCine will do their best to acquire them (which they actually do, we can attest to it).
Again, this is an area that GreenCine excels. They have more information than you could possibly want on a movie. A simple click on "More Details" will give you loads of information from directors to screen writers to even hair stylists on some. Besides your standard movie synopsis, you'll also be able to see how the movie was rated by members along with who rented it last. You can see their profile and whether their tastes line up with yours.
There is an extremely informative section on the site called "Primers". Here the folks at GreenCine give a fun and insightful introductory to major film genres and movements such as Dogme 65, Italian Neo-Realism, and Hong Kong Horror Comedies. Not only will it introduce you to some movie genres you've probably never heard of, but it'll make you sound a little more intelligent when showing off your movie IQ to your friends.
Here is where GreenCine is at a distinct disadvantage to their major competitors. Currently they only have one shipping center which is located in Van Nuys, California. While this is great for those movie fans located in the Los Angeles area, it's not so great for everyone else. Shipping times were between 2-3 days in the Midwest and 2-4 on the far East Coast. Being in Chicago, we were able to get about 2 DVDs a week, which isn't bad considering the inventory we were selecting was stuff that couldn't be found anywhere else.
From our perspective, we saw no signs of throttling (although their distance allows for a natural throttle). In fact, a couple years back GreenCine took a shot at Netflix for throttling in a blog post where they stated "At GreenCine, we're far too busy interviewing filmmakers, recommending our favorite movies, pushing the envelope with Video-on-Demand and trying to connect our members with new films to spend time devising ingenious ways to limit their access."
On a positive note, GreenCine ships their DVDs with cardboard backing which alleviates broken or scratched discs. They also send and receive movies on Saturdays unlike some other smaller companies.
Due to the nature of their inventory, prices are higher with GreenCine than most other DVD rental services. They offer 6 different plans that allow users to take anywhere from 1 DVD to 8 out a time. Currently they do not offer a free trial.
1 DVD Out @ $9.95/month
2 DVD Out @ $14.95/month
3 DVD Out @ $21.95/month
4 DVD Out @ $27.95/month
5 DVD Out @ $33.95/month
8 DVD Out @ $49.95/month
Members also have the option to buy DVDs from GreenCine directly. The prices are affordable and within market range for buying and have free priority shipping on orders over $50.
Overall GreenCine is a solid DVD rental service for anyone looking for rare, hard-to-find movies. Their community is top notch and their service is stellar. Our main gripes come in the terms of shipping to the East Coast and a higher monthly cost. However, if you're a movie geek who loves the indie film scene, there just isn't any place better. You'll learn to deal with the slower delivery times and will enjoy this service.
While many people want to decide if GreenCine can replace their Netflix account, we actually think both work. GreenCine makes a great supplement to Netflix. We'd recommend knocking down your Netflix plan by a DVD and throwing in the GreenCine 1 or 2 DVD plan to broaden your movie selection. You'll still get your lightning fast Netflix DVDs while throwing in the occasional rare flick from GreenCine every week.
If your budget can't handle both, we'd still consider GreenCine as your primary service if you have a more eclectic taste in movies (or want to throw a little porn in the mix now and then). If you're someone who has a Region 0 DVD player or simply loves finding those rare gems from overseas, you will fall in love with this company. GreenCine is definitely not for everyone though, and we highly recommend taking a look around their site and seeing what they have to offer.
I have been a member of GreenCine for a few months now, and have been happy with the service. The biggest problem I have with them is the amount of time it takes to ship and receive DVDs. I am in Illinois, and it can take 3+ days in the mail to sometimes get a movie. This means that I can rent about 1/2 of the movies as I can with Netflix. Other than the time problem, I am really happy with GreenCine. They have a great selection and I can get things that Netflix or Blockbuster do not have. I would say if you can afford it and love to watch movies, you should have a membership with GreenCine for the rare movies/tv shows, and then one with either Blockbuster or Netflix to get the mainstream movies and tv shows quickly.
I'm a huge fan of foreign films and this company is perfect for me. They have a ton of movies that are not at Netflix or Blockbuster and they are usually always in stock. Their interface isn't as nice as the others but it still gets the job done. I live in Texas, so the DVDs usually take about 2 days to get to them and 2 days to get returned. Not as fast as Netflix in my area but I'll deal with it to get some rare stuff that would cost a fortune to buy from an overseas vendor.