Opinion Piece – Why we should miss Blockbuster Video

Blockbuster Video

By Eddie 7/11/2013

Disclaimer – this is not a love letter in anyway to “Blockbuster” in particular, more the rental institution as a whole and what it encourages.

With the news of Blockbuster Video closing its doors in the USA by the start of the new year it feels apt to pay homage to the place where many of us film lovers used to look forward to going to on the weekends, whether it was to load up on the classics for a movie marathon, collecting some horrors for the sleepover or rushing in to catch the latest and the best on VHS and later DVD, Blockbuster was the place where film dreams were made of and a place that will be missed in years to come.

This opinion piece I must confess may be somewhat biased as I myself hold the pleasure of having Blockbuster be my first place of work, a workplace where I enjoyed every shift for a period of over 4 years. It was in this store where my love for film thrived, wondering through the aisles and encountering many a film fan my movie knowledge multiplied no end with hidden gems found, customers personal favourites spoken about and many a new release watched just because (or maybe it’s because they were free for staff). It is in these memories and the act of physically finding movies that I believe we will come to miss so much.

Blockbuster offered that two pronged ability to not only get the movie but have the interaction of getting to know the workers, I speak for myself here but I took great pride in the customers I got to know over the years from debating why a movie was bad or why it was grand or merely suggesting to the lost film wonderer a movie that may suffice their needs. Sure sometimes the VHS’s weren’t rewound, the DVD’s sometimes scratched and is there anything worse than those late fees? These downsides however were far outweighed by the sheer and unbridled joy of the film hunt and hopefully your positive interactions with the movie loving staff.

Blockbuster Video

Blockbuster opened its first store in Dallas in 1985, setting forth a video rental domination that would at its peak have over 9000 stores providing the masses with their movie needs. To think now that in less than 30 years this domination is about to end in a sad whimper is a sobering thought. With growth in the medium from home rental services through to piracy it is a reminder to us all that we the lovers of film could also be it’s killers and this brings me to the point I want to make as to the “why” we should miss Blockbuster.

Movies can bring people together like almost no other medium. You find someone that likes the same films as you and you are set for life, hours can be withered away watching, talking and debating about every minuet aspect of a movie, actor or director. Blockbuster offered that chance to meet people and talk about the films you were getting, which is part of the joy of being a film fan. It may seem as though we need not mourn the loss of this particular chain but I fear for what it may trigger. It may be convenient to rent a movie from home or download a freshly cam filmed version of the newest big budget flick but if we continue down that path we will lose the film community that Blockbuster itself once so wholly supported.

Speaking again completely for myself but I will miss walking through those doors and patrolling the shop for my next rental and holding the case physically in my hand, I will miss catching up with my favourite film geeks who on a good day would wipe those pesky late fees or get excited to show you what orders arrived that week, heck I will even miss grabbing those nasty ex-rentals for the awesomely cheap price of ownership. Blockbuster you’re going but you will not be forgotten, if not solely for the “Blockbuster” brand perse but for what you promoted and encouraged.

Blockbuster Video

42 responses to “Opinion Piece – Why we should miss Blockbuster Video

    • I am the same Jo, it really was fantastic growing up as a film fan roaming the sections for classics or anything that caught my eye. I do very much hope that rental shops can last a few more years yet.

  1. Nice opinion piece. I remember the days of you working at Blockbuster! Even though the rental prices were higher and never seemed to be able to get a park, thanks Blockbuster for the many years of rentals and special thanks Eddie for always wiping my late fees : )

    • Got to love those hiked up rental prices! If it were me they would of always stayed low 🙂 Lets just hope we can wonder the aisles of some similar shops for a few more years yet.

  2. As a kid, I used to love exploring Blockbuster and finding amazing new things to watch. It was definitely a place of discovery for me. I never worked there, but I have fond memories of being a customer! It makes me feel sad that kids nowadays won’t be able to have the same rewarding experience of flipping through all the chunky VHS boxes to find something inspirational.

    • So great to hear Anna that you to had those memories growing up, that’s what saddens me the most these days about the new film fans they will merely click a button and have any film they want therefore taking away some of that magic that came with physically going to find a new movie to love.

  3. As a movie fan and a librarian, I have to, of course, plug the public library here. Most public libraries now carry DVDs of all shapes and sizes, from the classics to new releases, along with television series. All those things you mentioned about getting to know the people behind the desk can still happen if you find your movie-nerd at your local library. We all have one or two in our buildings, ready to babble and debate. 🙂

    • Orange – we can rest a little easier at night now knowing as you say that there will still be those people out there always ready to take the time and debate about all things film! People should hopefully be all aboard continuing to support these such facilities.

  4. After all has been said and done, I’m glad I grew up in the era of video stores and rentals, it was just more exciting as a child to go to the video store and explore what was on offer! While I’m an avid fan of better picture quality and whatnot, I will always miss the days of videos!

  5. I remember going down to the local Blockbuster ever Friday and choosing a movie and a pack of sour apple rings with my mom. Best day of the week by far, will be greatly missed.

  6. I agree 100 percent. It was such a part of the habit and the culture of watching movies and of LISTENING to other people talk about movies they wanted to see. I miss it dearly. Dialing up a film on Netflix isn’t the same.

    • Jordan so glad you feel the same!
      It really takes away from what films have to offer us, one day we will never have to leave the house. Get our groceries delivered, our films straight onto our computers and interactions severely limited. It will be a sad day when there are no “movie guys” left, the ones we always looked forward to catching up with when we picked up our films.

  7. I feel as though I just need to say I agree with everything everyone has said… The Video Ezy I’ve been going to forever just shut down to make way for a bottle shop (in a pretty bad neighbourhood). I may never see that same girl that worked there ever again, and this feeling of nostalgia for all the rental stores I’ve now seen disappear is killing me.

  8. Every Friday when I got paid I used to buy 5 movies from Blockbuster for a little over 20 bucks. I’m going to miss it :[

    • Drak that is great mate! Sounds a little like me working there was not the best for savings, I’d have ex rentals staring at me all day long then I felt obliged to buy them. Nothing like a handful of cheap DVD’s always will love that feeling of getting them home and slowly watching them all.

      • I got some really awesome movies over the years from Blockbuster. Maybe one day we’ll see this franchise come back. It’s not likely but it never hurts to hope.

  9. Really good post. I got misty eyed when I heard the last few were closing =(. So many memories. Most kids now probably haven’t even set foot in one (or at least don’t remember), I feel so old thinking about that.

    • It’s strange to think they have come and gone so quickly really, times change so fast these days no doubt there will be a new way to watch movies in the next few years and netflix will feel outdated.

  10. I used to love to walk into the horror section and look at all the DVD covers of new releases trying to get me to rent them and of older films that I would point out and say, this was good… It was fun to talk to the workers and other customers in person about films. Even if we didn’t agree on films we liked it was always polite (as it is here on wordpress). Every time I mention I don’t like a film on Facebook I get nasty remarks, (your too old, you don’t really like horror, you must be dumb if you don’t like this film, and much worse.) I liked looking at the dvd boxes because it prepped you for what you were about to watch – if you saw the Full Moon logo on the back cover, you kinda’ knew what style of film you were getting 😉

    • Such great thoughts Parlor, everything you said is so true and so relatable. Now days it is so easy for people to just take people apart online and one feels that the once great film loving community found at suchlike places like Blockbuster is slowly dying.

  11. Great post. I grew up in ireland where the equivalent to Blockbuster was a chain called Xtravision, and in the 1980s when the video boom was just beginning, the experience of going to a video store was a genuine thrill and as much a part of growing up as going to a record store (choosing your own music/movies instead of what your parents wanted you to listen to/watch). I can still remember the first video that our family rented (‘Airplane’ – on Betamax). I share the nostalgia of many of the comments here. People thought video would kill the community spirit of being part of a movie audience, but teenage weekend video parties disproved that. Question: would Tarantino – the most famous video store clerk in the world – have become the filmmaker he is if the only access he had to genre movies was sitting alone in front of a computer?

    • Niall thanks so much for sharing those memories, it’s so interesting to hear these things especially from other countries. In regards to OT I think your onto something there, I can imagine he would of been one of these great video geeks I mentioned with many happy customers.

  12. Great read! That was awesome getting to hear your side on the story. The last blockbuster in this area is selling their movies this thursday so I’m going to load up on films. I don’t know where you guys live at but in California we have these two stores that I know of called Rasputian and Ameoba that sell cds, dvds, vinyls, vhs, and clothes. Criterion, classics, action all the genres organized, sections were everything is 3 for $10. It’s like the same experience you’d get going to blockbuster besides the fact you have to by anything. It’s just nice going with some friends and talking about movies and music to them and to strangers. http://dkpresents.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/img_6412.jpg . Thankfully the Bay Area has that but Blockbuster will be dearly missed.

  13. A video store was a great way to discover movies that otherwise you would have never have gotten the chance to watch. How are the modern-day age ‘Bladerunner’-type films ever going to be re-discovered? I guess through blogs like these.

    I have to say, choosing a film in a video store was a kind of pleasurable torture for me. I remember all the times I would go into the store knowing exactly what I wanted to rent, only to find it already borrowed out, then spending the next hour debating over what to get.

  14. Great piece. I had a friends that worked in a branch in Southern England. He used to hide in the drop box after work and push people’s videos back out as they walked away. Hilarious

  15. Hey Eddie 🙂 … I think I still have my Blockbuster card even though I left the UK a long time ago … Remember trying to rent “Natural Born Killers”, but the Blockbuster clerk said the movie was banned for reasons you-know-what … Well, that was in 1998, so I don’t know whether the movie is still banned there today … Probably a good thing he advised renting against the movie, I might have had nightmares after watching it … Anyways, great tribute 🙂 Hope you come up with tributes like this in future posts … Btw, ‘cinematicidiot’ is a reference made in High Fidelity, in case you’re wondering 😉 …

    • Hey mate cheers for the kind words it was in many ways a quite personnel post but Jordan and I are always endeavouring to come up with some unique little pieces to express our movie thoughts.

      Cheers for the heads up on the name as well – High Fidelity is a movie I have yet to see so will have to rectify that one day.

  16. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked
    submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that
    over again. Anyways, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  17. Pingback: Jordan and Eddie – Celebrating 2 Years of The Movie Guys | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

  18. Found this entry from your 2-year anniversary post – having worked in a Blockbuster in Winter Park Florida, I too have fond memories of them and the customers we helped!

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