#blockbuster

Speaking of Blockbuster (yes, again), here’s a fun take by Nathan Rabin:

My life began at Blockbuster. The pay was shit. I made minimum wage when I was hired ($4.25 an hour), but when I put on the khaki pants and blue Oxford shirt, something remarkable happened: Seemingly sane adults began treating me, a 16-year-old, like someone whose cinematic opinions they valued. By virtue of wearing a uniform and having a name tag, I suddenly became an expert on movies. I didn’t want that feeling to end even after I reluctantly left Blockbuster as a college sophomore because the commute was too long. It isn’t much of an exaggeration to say a direct line could be drawn between the four years I spent working in a video store (three at Blockbuster, and one at Madison’s Four Star Video Heaven) and the 16 subsequent years I’ve spent as a film critic. There’s a critic inside every great video-store clerk. Sometimes they’re even afforded an opportunity to escape.

I always liked the notion that someone was a film expert simply because they worked at Blockbuster (or any other video store, but especially Blockbuster) — even if they were 16 years old. Rabin is one of the few who actually went on to become a film expert. As did another former video store clerk.

Speaking of Blockbuster, everything about this post by Spencer Hall from April of this year is fantastic:

Blockbuster’s selection made sense only in the sense that there was an alphabetical order, and sections, and then the words on those tapes were arranged in something like alphabetical order. Blockbuster would have one copy of Lawrence of Arabia. They would have 500 fucking copies of The Pelican Brief because Blockbuster either had a sweet deal with the studio on the video release, or because someone seriously overestimated your interest in a middling Grisham thriller.

This bothered me so much I once rented three copies of The Fugitive—three out of roughly seven hundred copies available at once at the Blockbuster on US 19 in Palm Harbor, Florida—just to see if the clerk would even flinch. They did not, and merely noted the $5,000 balance in late fees the family account had on it from the last time we rented Cool Hand Luke. I shot the clerk, and took all three copies home and watched them without remorse. When I finished one, I would go to the next, because the best thing to watch after watching Andrew Davis’s classic take on Dr. Richard Kimble’s story of redemption and survival IS TO WATCH THE FUGITIVE AGAIN.*

And, to close:

The world does not miss Blockbuster, and never will or should. Return your DVDs with blood on them. Poop in the return box. If you see one burning, ensure all neighboring businesses are safe and then let it burn. If a collections agency comes after you for a $3.00 balance on a video you rented in 2002, then MAIL THEM A LIVE PIT BULL. Blockbuster video was the worst kind of business; a trap designed for stupid people to lose money in until they find a better service. I still have one of those copies of The Fugitive. Come after it if you like, Blockbuster. Oh, that’s stealing, you say? To quote Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: I don’t care.

[via @navkumar_]

Justin Bachman on Dish’s decision to finally put Blockbuster out of its looooooong misery:

The video rental chain was spun off by Viacom (VIA) in 2004 and had about 9,000 locations at the time—a position of market dominance that once made it a target of legal challenges by smaller video rental businesses. Now some of those little brick-and-mortar movie stores will manage to outlive the behemoth. “The fact is that one retailer just doesn’t an industry make,” says Mark Fisher, president and chief executive of the Entertainment Merchants Association, a home-video and gaming trade group. “When Tower closed its doors, it certainly didn’t signal the end of the music business.”

Maybe not all hope is lost:

Indeed, in the $18 billion home-video market, rental is hot. Spending for movie rentals is expected to top movie sales this year for the first time since 2001, according to research firm BTIG.

Well, that actually just may say more about how poor the movie sales business is:

Video chains that want to keep people browsing the physical discs have been rushing to expand their offerings. The largest U.S. chain, Family Video, has started installing pizza shops adjacent to its locations “to offer one-stop shopping for dinner and entertainment,” as the company explains, while also expanding into fitness centers and a cable-TV service in several central Illinois burgs. Another entrepreneur has likewise added frozen yogurt to his store, MR Video, in Keizer, Ore.

In Brooklyn, meanwhile, Wendy Chamberlain moved her 16,000 movies to the basement so she’d have space for a bar and screening room. Some of the staff learned to mix cocktails. “We couldn’t just give up,” Chamberlain told DNAInfo, a local news website. “We hated the idea of not being able to be here and rent movies to people anymore.”

Cute, yet probably futile.

Alex Sherman for Bloomberg:

Dish Network Corp’s Blockbuster will begin selling mobile phones in its movie-rental stores as a test for Dish’s planned entry into the wireless business, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

This is actually the first decent idea I’ve heard involving Blockbuster in probably a decade.

Also fascinating:

Dish has closed about half of the 1,700 Blockbuster stores it acquired when it bought the company out of bankruptcy last year. When Blockbuster was owned by Viacom Inc. in 2004, it operated about 9,000 locations.

So there are now about 900 Blockbuster stores, down from 9,000 eight years ago. Insane.

Netflix at first paid for 5 million customers and they got 25 million. But now people are saying, ‘OK, you’re going to get 30 million customers, so you’re going to pay for 30.’ If Netflix can get 40 or 50 million, they’ll be fine. But if they don’t get to 30, they’re probably going to go pfft.

Dish Network head Charlie Ergen predicting the future for Netflix.

Keep in mind this is the guy who bought Blockbuster and spends the entire interview with Bloomberg trying to rationalize the move, suggesting that what was clearly a mistake was not a mistake — just a waste of time, and money. Right.

Part funny. Part sad. Fully pathetic.

Here’s one great rundown of the history of this massive failure. Remember when Viacom bought them for $8.4 billion in the 90s? Then they IPO’d to raise another $5 billion? Remember when they tried to buy an also clearly failing Circuit City!?

The people running the company at the end remind me a lot of the famous old Iraqi Information Minister.

"We have them surrounded in their tanks."

Blockbuster Inc. will probably receive a one-month reprieve from creditors next week so the video-rental chain can prepare for a possible bankruptcy filing in September, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

What a colossal fuck up. Great example of resting on your laurels.

Their stock now stands at 17 cents — yes, cents — a share. And experts are valuing the company’s inventory of DVDs and its brand name at “tens of millions of dollars.” Pathetic.