VANDERBURGH CO., IN (WFIE) - A drama is playing out over movie rentals, and the local prosecutor has a starring role.
Redbox movies for $1 are popular and accessible, maybe too accessible to younger customers.
The issue is over movie ratings, and now the Vanderburgh County prosecutor is involved.
Chances are, you've seen the Redboxes.
They're popping up all over town.
They're the newest and cheapest way to rent a movie, but some think cheap movies might come at a price.
"I like the fact that they're convenient," Redbox user Eric Hoalt said.
Convenient and inexpensive is part of the marketing strategy behind the Redbox.
They're easy use.
You choose the movie you want to watch, swipe your card and out pops the movie, but there are some who feel that might be a little too easy to use, especially for those underage.
"I guess there's no way to control it," Hoalt said. "I guess when you think about it. I've never even thought about that."
But the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor's Office has been thinking a lot about it recently.
Stan Levco is looking into an Indiana statute that he said could mean movies rated R, even PG-13, would need to be removed.
"This statute is a pretty tricky area," Levco said. "All movies that could potentially be harmful to minors is what we're talking about and that gets to be a question of what exactly does that mean?"
In January, Levco's office sent letters to stores like Walmart, Schnucks and Walgreens that have a Redbox or similar machines on their property.
"Asking them to stop doing it, otherwise I would consider filing charges," Levco said.
Levco said he's heard from several corporate attorneys that represent those stores.
He said he's giving them a couple weeks before he wants the sheriff's department to begin investigating.
"Is a kid under 13 really going to be renting a movie out of there anyway? I doubt it," Hoalt said.
It's an issue that two Indiana cities have already looked into.
Levco's investigation would be the first time it's debated on the county level.
Most of the movies 14 News found available at local Redboxes were rated R.
Some stores said removing them could void their contracts, and the machines themselves could be removed.
"You have to have a credit card, so in order to have a credit card would you have to be 18 to use it?" Hoalt said.
But Levco said there are ways around that too.
"You could use somebody else's, I suppose," Levco said.
There are signs posted saying you must be 18 to rent an R-rated movie, but some argue that's not being enforced.
©2010 WFIE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
1115 Mt. Auburn Road
Public File Contact: