MovieBob's Re-Tales: Blockbusted

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MovieBob's Re-Tales: Blockbusted

Blockbuster was my first paying job. It's an experience I recall with mixed emotions.

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It's a shame that one more video store chain has gone under, but I'm not too broken up by it. Hopefully, Blockbuster Video will be remembered as a cautionary tale of bad business practices blowing up in their face and not being able to adapt to the rise of new technology.

Also, I come from the generation that remembers pan-and-scan VHS tapes. When my family and I switched over to DVD, I had to explain to my folks the pros of letterbox and than the black bars on the top and bottom were normal. It took some getting use to but they've gotten use to it.

I remember when the Blockbuster opened in my Kansas home town. I thought it was a big deal. Before it, we only could rent movies from the grocery store or some small mom/pop place. At the time, i knew that blockbuster would drive the small place out of business and i thought that was a good thing. After all, i was 11 and their selection was crap. Blockbuster would have all the latest big movies and many many copies. I realize now that while i was correct that the it would be crushed out of business, i no longer think it was a good thing. I hadn't started looking for more interesting films until years later and by then, blockbuster had a straggle hold on the town's rental business.

While the small store wasn't ideal for tween looking for the biggest release, it might have been great for a more mature teenager looking for older and varied titles.

But i realized that too late.

My other big memory of blockbuster was when they had a demo unit of the virtual boy. I recall playing it there a couple times (mario tennis) and kinda wanting it. The double d-pad controller seemed cool.

I'm not too broken up by this, when I lived in Canada, Rogers Video was always closer than Blockbuster so I ended up going there, and when I moved to the US I preferred Hollywood Video because of their 5-day rental policy. I actually ended up working for Hollywood Video during the summer of 2006 despite not really needing the money and I did have some fun experiences. I ended up getting fired though because I forgot to flip over these webcomics I had at the cash register. Still a little sad that location is now a Famous Dave's Rib Shack.

Family Video's still alive, I can still rent before I buy games.
I'm more sad that grocery store rentals died more than Blockbuster.

We had three local large rental shops around where I live when I was growing up. One of which had multiple locations and was the preferred spot for many folks. When BB showed up, one closed it's doors within a year. The local chain hung on for a while but eventually it wound up dead. Slowly shuttering location after location until the primary one was all that was left. The only one to survive was the store that didn't have rentals as it's primary business. They're more into books and music but they just also happen to rent movies. It's sorta funny to still see them going strong even after the big bad BB has now died.

Other than killing the local stores I never really had a problem with my local Blockbuster other than what they charged to actually purchase a movie. I tended to stick to a tiny shop because I knew the owner. Plus he tended to hook me up with stuff after I suggested he get more anime. That wound up being a huge boon for him as he was the only one in town with a good selection. He, too, eventually had to close up shop but had a good run. I think he actually still runs a rental place in one of the nearby small towns that has crappy internet access.

Bob, was great to meet you at the Expo this year and thanks for signing my book. I also had my first successful attempt at short-term employment in HS with the local BB circa 1998, though I was in California. Man, I can't agree with you more. Definitely not sorry to see this company go and here's assuming this brand continues to devalue & disappear.

Still, I do have fond childhood memories of this commercial's jingle from 1990:

MovieBob's Re-Tales: Blockbusted

Blockbuster was my first paying job. It's an experience I recall with mixed emotions.

Read Full Article

Bob, its kinda scary you and I had the same job in high school, even scarier that it was the first paying job... I do remember the hell of trying to explain widescreen to people who had no clue what an aspect ratio was nor the presence of mind to figure out a movie theater screen is shaped differently than a TV screen.... I wonder how many of those people failed to tell the difference between a square and a rectangle.
I ended up setting up two display tv's running the same movie in widescreen and pan & scan and people still failed to tell the difference... Ah those were the days.

It's both sad and appropriate that Blockbuster's main legacy is going to be in the form of college case studies of why it's important for business models to be adaptable.

Also it's pretty telling that Radio Shack, another retailer not doing so well, has a similar policy to Blockbuster's DVD policy. Apparently they can be the only store at a location that sells iPhones (Ha!)

I'm not really sad to see Blockbusters go because while I have a membership I haven't rented anything from Blockbusters in years. I was sad to see a chain called Apollo go, it was the local rental place in my town and it used to be a big chain, not as big as Blockbusters but it had a good presence in the UK. By the time I started working there in 2010 it was down to only four shops and they all proceeded to close within the year. I was 20, turning 21 then and I had been going to Apollo for DVDs since I was 10-12.

I miss Hollywood Video. I used to like being able to walk down to Game Crazy and buy a game. Now I have to drive miles to get to the nearest video game store. That said it was always funny to me that I would walk into a Hollywood Video, and the majority of the building barren of life that was dedicated to movies, and there was this small gated off corner of the store where there were actual people, browsing ordering and buying products. It is probably a major reason why I switched to PC. Because with Steam I can just order and download what I want when I want. (I tried buying games off of the 360's download service 3 separate times, every time I had to call Microsoft for a refund because the thing wouldn't download properly.)

I still have fond memories of walking around the local Blockbuster with my dad, renting some movies and the occasional video game. I still have some games in a Blockbuster case from buying them at that store. It may have been an awful company, ethically, but I still miss it.

At one point my city of 10,000 had three separate video rental stores in it, and oddly not one of them was Blockbuster, although you could go 15 or so minutes away to get to one of them. It'll be a part of my childhood as it will be with many others, but it seems like the idea of renting games in those old systems would be so incredibly oppressive now, and looking back it was way too expensive and you didn't get much for it.

My local blockbuster was consistently mixing up their widescreen and fullscreen formatted VHS tapes, so I wasn't too sad to see it go under (it actually hung for a ridiculously long time. It just shuttered 2 months ago.)

i was assistant manager for blockbuster just two years before they closed in Canada. like Bob, and mostly anybody that had work in a video club, i could fill a book with stories (like the one time where a guy was looking around for 10 minutes, in the store, i asked him if i could help him, and he told me : no it's ok, i'm just looking for a movie for my daugther, and a few minute later he talked to a male employe, and leave. i asked the employe what the guy asked him, he said : he asked me where the porn section was (if you remember, blockbuster didnt had a porn section)), especially that in Québec we had the language difficulty, because some of the less popular movies didnt have the french version.

with the language, when videoclub stores had vhs, they had to have 4 version of the movie :widescreen English, widescreen french, fullscreen English, fullscreen french... god bless dvd for that...

Anyway blockbuster never became a leader in the industry here. in our provincial anomaly, videotron is the big evil company that control : press, book editing, cable distribution (and movies and on demand streaming within their cable distribution), general and specialized tv channel, internet, cell phone and phone service provider, and videoclub stores.

I have been going to Blockbusters for years before my family upgraded to digital cable for movies. Most of the video games I own, I first rented from Blockbuster. Yeah, who here still remembers renting video games? Yes, those were good times, when I was a lad. This will be one more thing we'll have to explain to our future children.

Bob, your memories are my memories. I worked at Blockbuster from 1999 to 2000, just out of High School, and dear god was it a shit job. To this day I have Blockbuster TV audio loops stuck in my head. I remember that the drama section is where the softcore porn was kept and that nobody wanted to fucking straighten the kid's movie shelves because the little shits would wreck them again in an hour. And yes, the Phantom Menace launch. We at least had a number of people who pre-ordered it at my store, myself included. The special box set with the film clip.....yeah, that was special.

Yeah, who here still remembers renting video games? Yes, those were good times, when I was a lad. This will be one more thing we'll have to explain to our future children.

seriously, i've seen a couple of comment like this before, but in the usa you dont have any way to rent a game anymore ? i mean, i rented zombiu last week...

"Some of you are too you to remember this"? I admit I may be quite me but I don't think being me prevents me from forming memories Bob!

OT: I'm somewhat remiss about Blockbuster going under. My parents and grandparents live in an area that still has craptacular internet so streaming isn't an option, but now there are no video stores to fill the gap either (mostly due to the aforementioned monopolization). The only options are watch in theater or buy a DVD.

I'm not all too surprised or saddened. Rogers was always closer, plus my father worked for Rogers so we got a discount. That and those divs at Blockbuster always buggered our name up. We tried signing up three times. All three times they messed up our surname. Creed. Come on. Five stinking letters. And they managed buggered it up each and every time.

Hunter C. Creed

Oh things like that with the Blockbuster still happen to some extent. I found out a couple of months ago that Gamestop had been telling their customers that my store ONLY sold retro games. One of my employees had been in the store because as a rule we like to keep a good working relationship with other retailers in the area. Hell The manager of one of our branches is an ex Gamestop manager and we are friends with employees from many other locations. The idea that a store would be deliberatly spreading missinformation about us was unthinkable.

Ugh I still remember when DVDs came out and their Advertisments advertised "crystal clear high resolution Pictures",
Oh Bother

One store down. A bunch of other retailers left to go. One by one they will all fall and we can cunt out the middleman.

Some of the local video rental places managed to stay in business when Blockbuster set up shop by renting porn. Actually wasn't too bad of a business model because people in a small Southern town felt like they had to rent some non-porn movies to sandwich the porn movie between in case they ran into someone they knew before they could get the movies home. When my mom worked at one of the stores there was always some sort of amusing story about the types of porn films people were renting.

Can't say I'm sad to see the stores go because I live in a rural area so streaming means not only can I get movies while in my pajamas but I save money on gas as well.

I've usually avoided the big video chains (especially Blockbuster) in favour of smaller independently-owned video store. I'm glad to see that one such store still exists in my town. And it seems to be doing fairly well, too! Probably because it's the only one left so it has cornered the market of old-school physical video renters.

Growing up in a small town in rural Texas, Blockbuster was like the second coming of the plague on the mom and pop shops (the first was Walmart).

When they opened their first store, we had three family run video stores. Within a year we had zero. Then came the price increases and the gotcha fees. And with our second and third Blockbuster videos came the "I'll call the other store and have them your video for you" which was inevitably followed by a poor schmuck at the other store saying "Nobody called us and someone already has your movie".

I feel for the people that will lose their jobs due to the shutdowns but I am damn happy to see this crappy company cease to exist.

I cannot even begin to summarize how often I had to have that widescreen conversation in my twelve years in video retail. I think my favorite was in 1997 when I had a customer demand a refund for the rental of a VHS copy of the classic Brad Pitt film Seven Years in Tibet because the picture was all cropped down. As it turns out the copy this customer had WAS in fact a Pan & Scan release of the film, but the opening credits were letterboxed. I tried in vain to explain to the customer that if it had not been letterboxed the opening title would have been "even Years in Tibe" and that his TV would be full (and the sides of the picture gone) if he would simply wait until the opening credits were over. As I recall he refused to believe me and instead got his money back and stormed off.

My area must be the exception. One local video store not only survived, but expanded to a newer, larger location in the face of the big B, despite being within a few blocks. Another local store that's been around since the mid-80's just kept on chugging along as though Blockbuster's rise and fall was completely irrelevant. We had a Hollywood Video for a while after to fill the corporate-video niche, but that's gone now, too.

I'm not going to miss them, or rentals in general. It's a peculiar part of history, like demo disks on magazines, that was completely of it's time and was over. There are better alternatives nowadays.

Do you get to be nostalgic over a Clerks reference though Bob? Considering your barely concealed vitriol for Smith? Just kidding, that's an ace reference.

In a way, this is kind of sad, remembering those "family film nights" where we popped down to Blockbuster (or Ritz before that - anyone remember Ritz?) to pick up a video we wanted. However, given that it was always just my dad and I that went down to the shop, we weren't as fond of the herculean task of picking a film we liked the look of that my mum and sisters wouldn't turn their noses up at.

Our local Blockbuster must be one of the last ones to go, it seems to have had a very long stay of execution. Really, we're not going to miss it though - the "renting" of films after all is one area where I am happy to accept the switch from physical copies to the digital format.

Thankfully never worked in a Blockbuster Video, but I did spend 3 soul crushing years as the assistant manager of a Suncoast Video (Sorry, Suncoast "Motion Picture Company"...feh) that pretty much put the kibosh on my desire to ever hold down a retail job ever again.

I always tried my damndest to put on a smile and provide decent service, but it was a thin glamour hiding what eventually became a boiling cauldron of contempt for our customers.

Family Video's still alive, I can still rent before I buy games.
I'm more sad that grocery store rentals died more than Blockbuster.

Though they are rare and their selection sub-par than redbox or netflix, grocery store rentals still exist.

Even though I would have to drive about three hours from where I live to get to one, it's still there mixed into a gas station in the middle of nowhere on the way to Oklahoma.

Believe it or not, when I stopped by there one night a few years ago, they did have some new releases but a majority were well received movies that are guaranteed to be rented out.

Now, granted, there was no other movie rental store in the town, not even a redbox, but seeing a small two pump gas station with a rental section that had The Hangover the day it was released on DVD was a bit weird.

Awesome, but weird.

OT, I kind of liked Blockbuster mainly because the rental store we had before didn't have much of a selection, and when I fully got into gaming, their game section was nearly barren.

I remember when Blockbuster started their $30 a month unlimited rental thing, where you could keep a game for the month, or return it and get a different game and keep it for the remainder of the month if you wanted.

They hated me after the first two months though, every couple of days I would come back in with a game I rented and beaten. By the fourth month I had played all the N64, Ps1, and Dreamcast games they had available.

My last rental form Blockbuster was Operation: Flashpoint Elite for the Xbox. I remember this because I rented it out for the week and when I came back to return it, Blockbuster was closed down.

Nothing inside, windows papered up, door locked.

I tried keeping that disk as safe as possible, as a reminder of a store that broadened my horizons in gaming. That was seven years ago I think.

Such a nostalgic time.

When our local store closed, I loved it.

They sold off all their inventory, so I ended up getting 'new' games for around 1-5USD each.

Take them over to GameStop, or a local game story, and get something like 20+USD in credit.



Hooray for people loosing their jobs?
And yes, I agree. Once all the stores are gone we can move to all digital and pretend like we own ANYTHING.

*rests forehead on desk*

OT: This was a cool read. I never worked at Blockbuster, or even set foot inside one, as there was never one close enough, but I did work at the local movie rental place and I absolutely loved it. Knew customers account numbers by heart, hell knew them and they knew me. Sometimes they'd ask my opinion on movies and games and it was just so cool.

Reading this kind of reminded me of it and now I'm a sad.

One store down. A bunch of other retailers left to go. One by one they will all fall and we can cunt out the middleman.

Literal reading of this statement makes capitalism sound a lot dirtier than usual.

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