From the distinctive blue and yellow color scheme to the oddly comforting smell of rows of plastic video cases, anyone who grew up in the 90s will remember the thrill of a trip to Blockbuster in search of a movie.
While the video chain flourished in the 1980s and 1990s, it was killed off by streaming services, and by 2014 Blockbuster had closed the last of its company-owned stores, and today only one remains, in Bend, Oregon.
And now a new Netflix comedy follows the fictional lives of workers employed by the movie rental chain’s “last remaining store.”
The series, titled Blockbuster, was released on November 3 and stars Fresh Off the Boat’s Randall Park as store manager Timmy Yoon and Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Melissa Fumero as his longtime crush Eliza.
Here, Femail takes a trip down memory lane that will hit a wave of nostalgia in anyone who remembers scouring the aisles, rewinding their tapes and trying to avoid those late return fees.
A new Netflix comedy (pictured) follows the fictional lives of workers employed by Blockbuster’s “last remaining store”
Going strong: This Blockbuster located in Bend, Oregon is the last Blockbuster location in the world
In 2000, Randolph had offered to sell Netflix to established rival Blockbuster but the offer was rejected. The Netflix founder revealed in his 2019 book that Blockbuster’s CEO at the time of the sale offer, John Antioco (seen in 2006), had almost laughed when a $50 million price tag was mentioned
The once-successful video store giant traces its roots to a single store that opened in October 1985 in Dallas, Texas.
The founder of the company, David Cook, used the proceeds from the first stores he had opened to build a huge warehouse and expand his growing empire.
In the late 1980s, the company was sold for $18.5 million to John Melk and Wayne Huizenga, former Waste Management executives, who greatly expanded the company, opening a store every 24 hours.
By 1992, Blockbuster was the video rental leader, with more than 2,800 stores worldwide. The company’s growth was driven by the acquisition of other retailers such as the British Ritz and the American chains Major Video and Erol’s Video.
The turning point for Blockbuster came in 1997, when Silicon Valley executives Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph launched Netflix, which went public five years later as a DVD-by-mail service.
In 2000, Randolph had offered to sell his company to established rival Blockbuster but the offer was rejected.
Blockbuster was once the leading video rental franchise with 9,000 locations worldwide before going bankrupt in 2010. As of 2017, there were 10 left in the US (the last remaining store above has become somewhat of a tourist spot)
Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings sits in a cart full of ready-to-ship DVDs in 2002. Hasting pitched Blockbuster when he bought his company for $50 million but was turned down
The Netflix founder revealed in his 2019 book that Blockbuster’s CEO at the time of the sale offer, John Antioco, had almost laughed when a $50 million price tag was mentioned.
At the time, Blockbuster was the dominant player in the DVD and video rental market. The company peaked in November 2004, with 84,300 employees and 9,094 stores worldwide.
But while Netflix introduced its streaming service in 2007, Blockbuster failed to adapt and its decline was swift. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010.
The following year, Dish Network bought Blockbuster’s 1,700 remaining stores before closing the last company-owned stores in 2013. Blockbuster’s 528 UK stores were among those allowed to close.
Meanwhile, from 2007 onwards, Netflix’s popularity increased, and the company expanded its usability to Xbox360, Blu-ray players and TV set-top boxes in 2008.
In 2019, an executive from the last Blockbuster store in the world said it continues to survive because of its loyal pool of older customers who “can’t use Netflix”.
The Chester branch of Blockbuster in the UK, pictured on 16 January 2013
The Bend franchise in Oregon became the last remaining after the world’s second-to-last Blockbuster announced it would close its doors in Perth, Australia, that year.
And among the reasons for its continued success, along with a community spirit and good customer service, is that some of the older regulars don’t have access to, or can’t use, online streaming services like Netflix, one employee said.
“Some of them just don’t want to access the new tech culture, and some don’t have the laptops or the devices to stream the sites,” said watch manager Dalton Chambers, who agreed that it made sense for the store to continue to thrive on DVD discs simply because of the technology gap.
“It also goes with things like Blu-ray DVDs,” Dalton told DailyMail.com. “A lot of the older generation also just go for regular DVDs because they don’t want to mess with Blu-ray. They don’t want to take the chance that it might not work for them.’
But Dalton also pointed to its unique location and customer base as another reason for the store’s historic success.
Titled Blockbuster and released on November 3, the Netflix series boasts Fresh Off the Boat’s Randall Park (pictured) as store manager Timmy Yoon and Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Melissa Fumero as his longtime crush Eliza
Speaking to Pop Sugar about his new series, American actor Randall admitted he had mixed feelings about streaming. Pictured, Tyler Alvarez as Carlos in the series
“We’re in Bend, Oregon, and here in Oregon, a lot of things thrive,” he explained. ‘We’re a mecca for craft breweries, we’re a really open-air town, we’re just in the right niche that can keep things thriving.
“People are like ‘oh, it’s the last Blockbuster left – let’s get on with it!’ – it’s everyone’s personalities here – that’s our mantra.’
The Bend store has been open for more than 20 years, with most of its sales coming in thanks to classic old movie titles.
Speaking to Pop Sugar about his new series, American actor Randall admitted he had mixed feelings about streaming.
He said: ‘I love the convenience of streaming. I will say that there is something very special about having to work a little for your content and make an event based on the actual choice.
‘I long for the simplicity of that time, and as Timmy says, the human interaction that comes with it.
‘Talk to the clerk in the store, get recommendations, give recommendations, all these things, in real time. I think it’s fun. And that’s something we no longer have, unfortunately.
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