What Is Blockbuster’s Legacy?

Blockbuster announced recently that it’s going to phase out its remaining 300 retail locations over the next few months. Either way you slice it, it’s amazing that Blockbuster was down to so few stores. On the one hand, that’s a pretty steep fall from its height of 9,000 at the end of the last century, when there was almost no other way of renting movies. But on the other, I had no idea that there were any Blockbusters left at this point. I haven’t seen one since the one I lived near in New York closed in 2009.

There are plenty of places to read up on the facts and figures of the Blockbuster decline. Here’s one good example. But we at Yester thought it worth noting that the digitalization of movies has been somewhat of a mixed bag. For example, have you tried recently to get a classic movie on the fly? If it’s not on Netflix Instant, you’re pretty much screwed. iTunes is spotty at best, and Redbox is a bigger piece of garbage than the folded up cardboard boxes they place next to it in the supermarket.

Going to a movie store as opposed to downloading a video is like listening to the radio in the car. Of course you have your iPod with you but every now and then you still switch to the radio even though there’s not a song there that you can’t find online. It’s just nice to have the selection laid out for you. I know that, for me, every time I’m bumming around the house and there’s nothing on the TV, I miss being able to head over to a place where I can browse an actual selection instead of having to come up with a few ideas of movies I feel like watching on my own.

Ultimately, though, this is Blockbuster’s fault. It rampaged through the country, putting boutique movie stores out of business before meeting its own demise not long after. Thanks a lot, assholes. I guess I’ll just start making my way through these terrible remakes.

One final farewell for all those nostalgia-maniacs out there, a video from 2006 when Blockbuster was already frantically trying to find a niche for itself as an analog product in a digital world. Remember this one? Doesn’t seem like so long ago.

photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

  • Adam Vaccaro

    It’s a similar fate to Barnes and Noble, which came in and destroyed the book ecosystem (thanks Tom Hanks) before seeing their own new grip wrestled away pretty quickly by Amazon, etc.