During the 1990s, Blockbuster was a dominant movie distributor, particularly for VHS tapes. I have a fond memory of visiting my mother in central Pennsylvania, and one evening we decided to visit a Blockbuster store. As I perused the shelves, I stumbled upon two films that I had worked on as a cameraman. To my delight, my name was listed on the credits displayed on the slick VHS movie cases. My mother was amazed and proud, and it was a moment that has stayed with me ever since.
Blockbuster, the iconic movie rental retailer, closed most of its operations in 2014 but still has an active website. A recent tweet by the company joked about reopening and using VHS and DVDs as currency, sparking nostalgic memories for fans who shared their favorite childhood memories of picking out movies and video games with family and friends. The website blockbuster.com only has one page, the graphic above this article.
In the early 2000s, Netflix proposed a strategic alliance with Blockbuster to strengthen the movie rental market. However, Blockbuster rejected the offer to acquire Netflix for 50 million and did not embrace the idea of offering DVD rental services through email and streaming. Blockbuster’s resistance to change caused it to lose the chance of a lifetime, as video rentals became obsolete in the US a year later. The success of Netflix’s streaming service caused Blockbuster to lose customers, leading to its eventual downfall.
In 2011, the Blockbuster brand was acquired by DISH, a satellite TV company, for a whopping $320 million, as reported by Variety. Following the acquisition, DISH owned the licensing rights and created Blockbuster On Demand, a vast library of thousands of movies that were available to DISH customers and also as a standalone app. However, despite its initial popularity, the Blockbuster On Demand app is no longer available for download.
The Blockbuster story serves as a reminder that businesses must be willing to adapt and embrace change to remain relevant in a constantly evolving market.
The Last Blockbuster store, located in Bend, Oregon, is the only remaining physical location, which has made it a popular tourist destination for fans of the brand. The documentary features interviews with former Blockbuster employees and explores the cultural significance of the store. The film has also inspired nostalgia in many who remember the experience of visiting Blockbuster stores to rent movies and games. Blockbuster grew from a single store in Dallas to a chain of 9,000 locations over two decades.