Blockbuster to file for bankruptcy

Posted by · 10:57 am · August 28th, 2010

With Blockbuster Video preparing to go into Chapter 11 next month, it seems like it’s the end of an era…even if it was a long, painful, downward spiral of an end.

The first video store I ever frequented was a company called Doorstep Video in the early 1990s.  But not long after I began going to the Blockbuster across the street, a typical store, on the corner of Brenner and Fairson Avenues in Salisbury, North Carolina.  I remember it well.

I remember discovering movie after movie walking the aisles as a high school student nursing the flame of cinema passion.  I remember buying VHS copies of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “A Clockwork Orange,” “Goodfellas,” “Taxi Driver,” “Heat,” “The Usual Suspects,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Platoon” and “Midnight Express” there.

I remember going and perusing the new releases section with my parents, looking for something to watch on a Friday night.  I remember the way the sun blasted consistently on one side of the building throughout the day, fading the box art on certain titles.  And, peripheral to movies, I remember Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and NBA Jam tournaments hosted by the company.

I don’t even think it’s there anymore, but I remember it.

This isn’t a requiem to Blockbuster, though.  It’s a requiem to a certain process.  It was inevitable that the progression of film delivery systems would yield things like mailers, online streaming and kiosks (which is where Blockbuster is heading).  But Blockbuster and its ilk have always kind of been there as a reminder of another time.  I’ve been up the street to my local store a couple of times and it still brings in customers, but it’s almost novel to walk in there these days.

I genuinely miss the way I discovered those gems long ago, grabbing a box, turning it over, reading the summaries and the inevitable Peter Travers quote.  And I feel kind of bad that future generations will experience that less and less as, I think we can all imagine, one of these days DVDs and Blu-rays will stop flying off the shelves of retailers just as they stopped flying off the shelves of rental outfits.

Is scanning a film’s info on a computer screen comparable to grabbing a box and turning it over in your hands?  I don’t know.  Probably.  But there’s something disconnected about it, less intimate.  Maybe I’m crazy, maybe I’m pathetically nostalgic, I don’t know.  But reading that story and knowing the days were numbered anyway, it’s just…a bummer.

So, sayonara, Blockbuster.  Thanks for the memories.

[Photo: Weblo]

→ 14 Comments Tags: , | Filed in: Daily

14 responses so far

  • 1 8-28-2010 at 11:37 am

    McAllister said...

    Yeah, kinda sad.

    Last night, while at a trendy eatery in Atlanta (a former Top Chef finalist’s establishment)… a friend and I were discussing the Swedish film “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” when this woman and her daughter walked up and joined in our conversation. They didn’t know much about the book or movie (so why they invited themselves into our conversation, I don’t know) but the daughter quipped, “I saw it at blockbuster, so it must be English, right?”

    It reminded me of when I would go buy the foreign film DVDs that would be on sale as “previously viewed” for $2, $3 or $4. I feel like in my neighborhood, I was probably the only one to rent those in the first place, now I’m the only one to buy them.

  • 2 8-28-2010 at 11:41 am

    Nick Davis said...

    Well, I was still a weekly Blockbuster patron and have stayed off the Netflix circuit entirely, so I’m really bummed about this. Makes a certain kind of browsing tough, but I think I’ll miss interactions with video-store staff members and fellow browsers even more.

  • 3 8-28-2010 at 1:45 pm

    ChrisP said...

    I subscribe to Netflix and still frequent the closest video store we have – 8 miles away. Fifteen years ago there were seven video stores within a two mile radius of me and I loved to browse every one of them. *sigh*

  • 4 8-28-2010 at 2:15 pm

    Speaking English said...

    I still turn over cases and read them. Public libraries are a lifesaver.

  • 5 8-28-2010 at 3:32 pm

    Drew said...

    Never really rented from Blockbuster. Hollywood video was the big seller in my area and they were still doing well where we were locally and yet they still closed up. I liked actually taking my time and looking through what was available instead of netflixing or ordering on demand. I miss the stores

  • 6 8-28-2010 at 4:23 pm

    Angry Shark said...

    What I really want to know is which stores are failing in my area. I’m practically salivating over the possibility of really cheap classic movies for sale. Yesssssss.

  • 7 8-28-2010 at 5:22 pm

    Zac said...

    I remember back in high school on Friday nights, if there wasn’t anything at the local cinema worth seeing, my friends and I would browse Blockbuster looking for something to watch. That is how I saw The Shawshank Redemption and Se7en for the first time; both in the same night!

    I feel fortunate that I didn’t buy very many VHS tapes. I did buy over 1000 DVDs and am replacing some of those with BDs.

    The one closest to me shut down several months ago. I remember overhearing one of the employees telling someone on the phone that Blockbuster was planning on one store per city under a certain population threshold if they thought that market could support a Blockbuster.

    When that store closed, all the DVDs went to $9.99 each and the BDs at least $14.99 each. The funny thing was, those previously viewed DVDs were part of the 4 for $20 and 2 for $20 sale. People snapped them up like crazy thinking they were getting a deal unaware of the sale from before.

    I bought a couple of used BDs for under $15 each (The Hurt Locker and Zodiac) since at the time, brand new copies were over $25. I’ve watched both and no problems at all.

    One of my friends used to work for Blockbuster. He also worked for Circuit City before they closed. Should I call his current employer and warn them? :)

    Angry Shark,

    Keep an eye out in the paper for an article about a closing (that’s how I found out) or call the store(s) and ask if they’re one of the 960 scheduled for closing.

  • 8 8-28-2010 at 6:02 pm

    James D. said...

    I remember going every weekend with my mother and younger brother. We rented a video game and a movie a piece. As I got into teenagerdom, that ritual stopped, and I have not been in a video store ever since.

    Much like the act of buying CD’s, I miss the nostalgia of it, when the material seemed more valuable. I don’t miss the pricing, though.

  • 9 8-28-2010 at 10:05 pm

    Kyle said...

    I too recall standing outside of the Blockbuster (in VA Beach during my middle school days) with my mother and waiting for the store to open so we could pick up the newest releases before they were quickly snatched off the shelves…
    and remember when new rental VHS tapes weren’t for sale as quickly and all you could do was rent them? God forbid your vcr ate them up…I can’t even recall what the value of those were before they hit the general market.

    Sadly, Blockbusters business practices over the past few years had really done them in…no late fees quickly turned into turn it back in by this date or you own it till you turn it back in, and then we charge you for the restocking…meh…good riddance. Now, the death of Freshens Yogurt Stores…there’s a real tragedy :-)

  • 10 8-28-2010 at 10:07 pm

    Kyle said...

    Was that Flip by chance? or the Woodfire Grill (I think it’s called)?

  • 11 8-29-2010 at 12:13 am

    SJG said...

    I used to like video rental places, then I worked for a summer at Movie Gallery.


  • 12 8-29-2010 at 12:27 am

    DRM said...

    My local Blockbuster sucked. They would always try to charge us late fees even though we always turned in our movies a day or two early. They would leave voicemails informing us that we would be charged late fees, and naturally my mom would call them to explain that we turned the thing in 3 days ago. Then they would check the store and sure enough one of the employees hadn’t properly checked it back into their system.

    Eventually we switched to Hollywood Video because we got tired of Blockbuster’s repeated attempts at charging us late fees for movies that, you know, weren’t actually late. Despite this, I do I have fond memories of browsing the store for movies and video games.

  • 13 8-29-2010 at 11:09 am

    Jeorge. said...

    When Blockbuster moved into my home town it killed two other, smaller mom and pop type video stores in the area. The owners of those two small shops were knowledgeable, witty folks who encouraged and guided my early cinephelia. The Blockbuster employees were my fellow high school students and at least one of them regularly asked me why I kept renting “faggy foreign films?” For this and other reasons I’m fine with seeing Blockbuster go – but I do feel nostalgia for the experience of going into a store and renting something off the shelf.

  • 14 8-29-2010 at 6:10 pm

    Ripley said...

    I’ve been a Netflix subscriber from year one and haven’t had a Blockbuster sub for maybe 20 years, Hollywood Video was my choice. I was never happy with bigotry and censorship of Blockbuster so their demise is sweet music here.