The Fall of Blockbuster Video
There was a point in time when Blockbuster Video was the place to go. The hippest, cheapest, most convenient destination to rent a film. Sure in the Pre-Blockbuster days there were anonymous local video stores you could go to in order to rent your VHS or DVD, but once the Blockbuster chain started picking up steam they steamrolled right over them. You didn’t have to go too far to see their blue logo and stop in for your movie fix on the weekend. It became the way most people did their movie renting.
Now it seems those simple innocent times like a thing of the past. No longer are folks strolling over to the big blue store and looking at the employee recommendation shelf to see if they have the same movie taste as Todd at the register. Folks have found other ways to get their movie fix on a lazy weekend evening and it no longer involves Blockbuster.
Not that it should come to any surprise to anyone. For years now the way we rent and watch movies has completely been revamped from the time Blockbuster ruled the home video market. Heck, even in the last few years the way audiences watch movies has drastically changed. Streaming video, dvd mailings, vending machines – strolling over to your local Blockbuster seems like an antiquated idea nowadays.
Blockbuster seems like it just wasn’t able to adapt quickly enough for consumers and its stores started looking like one of those old Mom and Pop stores that Blockbuster ran out of our towns.
I used to frequent Blockbuster. I had one in my town and it was my ‘go to’ place for movies. That changed for me when Netflix came along. No late fees, having movies mailed right to me and I could make my selection right from home. It was hard to beat. However, the one thing that really made me gladly jump ship was a problem I had with Blockbuster ever since it came along – their selection.
Walking into a Blockbuster their shelves were lined with the most popular, mainstream, current films that were out on video or DVD. Granted the stores name is ‘Blockbuster’, so it goes to reason they would cater to the most wide demographic possible and have plenty of big movies available for them to choose from. You would be able to find lower grade B action films with exciting titles to them and silly, dopey comedies that you had never heard of it on occasion too.
In case you haven’t figured it out already I’m a bit of film geek and am more likely drawn to a smaller obscure film than say Men In Black or Transformers 2. So Blockbustes business practices kind of left the smaller niche of film-lovers who were looking for things a bit more off the beaten path out of luck. Foreign films, classic films, docuementaries. It was a rare instance when I would find anything like that in Blockbuster amongst the twelve-foot wall of The Mummy Returns.
So when Netflix came around and I saw their ridiculously more vast selection of choices I could make I immediately signed up andhaven’t looked back to Blockbuster. I hadn’t even thought much of Blockbuster until I saw the one in my town was ready to close a month ago.
A second Blockbuster a few towns over, that apparently seemed like it would be the alternative location for the Blockbuster regulars in my town also announced it was closing. So with signs saying “Everything Must Go!” and “DVD’s for $4.99” finally prompted me after years to finally wander into a Blockbuster. As usual it didn’t seem like much changed. Popular titles lined the shelves, now all marked down and ready to be bought.
I did end up buying a few though. There are some newer films I do enjoy. Never in my life did I think I would ever own Piranha, but when the price dropped to $3.99 I thought “yeah I’ll pick it up”.
Classic films were pretty much non-existent. I think Blockbuster defines an “old film” as anything before 1995. A black and white movie is something you were never likely to find on a shelf. I was able to find a copy of The Conversation! It really shocked me. It didn’t look like it was watched in years, but I gladly purchased it. I couldn’t help but think they had it by mistake.
It seems Blockbuster the company is getting a complete overhaul. Maybe they’ll try to focus more on home mailings like they finally started, but were left in the dust with. Or maybe we’ll see a bunch of Blockbuster kiosks, although Red Box seems to be doing pretty well with that. Whatever they plan on doing I personally won’t be missing Blockbuster too much.
It’s kind of ironic, for a store that valued keeping such an up to date, overwhelming amount of mainstream movies in stock for their customers, the thing that seems to have finally done them in was not adapting to how those customers were watching them.