From the distinctive blue and yellow colour scheme to the strangely 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 streatming services and by 2014, Blockbuster had shut down the last of its corporate-owned stores, and today only one, in Bend, Oregon, remains.
And now, a new Netflix comedy is following the fictional lives of workers employed by the film rental chain’s ‘last remaining store’.
Titled Blockbuster and released on November 3, the series stars Fresh Off the Boat’s Randall Park as store manager Timmy Yoon and Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Melissa Fumero as his long-time crush Eliza.
Here Femail takes a trip down memory lane that will strike a wave of nostalgia in anyone who remembers scouring the aisles, rewinding their tapes and trying to dodge the late return fees.
A new Netflix comedy (pictured) is following 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, Mr 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 $50million price tag was mentioned
The once successful video-store giant traces its roots to a single shop that opened October 1985 in Dallas, Texas.
The founder of the company, David Cook, used the revenue from the first several stores he had opened to build a massive warehouse and expand his growing empire.
In late 1980s, the company was sold for $18.5million to John Melk and Wayne Huizenga, former executives at Waste Management, who greatly expanded the company, opening one store every 24 hours.
In 1992, Blockbuster was the video rental leader, with more than 2,800 stores worldwide. The company’s growth was driven by acquisitions of other retailers such as UK’s Ritz and American chains Major Video and Erol’s Video.
The turning point for Blockbuster came in 1997, when Silicon Valley executive Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph launched Netflix, which went public five years later as a DVD-by-mail service.
In 2000, Mr Randolph had offered to sell his firm to established rival Blockbuster but the offer was rejected.
Blockbuster was once the lead video renting franchise boasting 9,000 locations worldwide before going bankrupt in 2010. By 2017 there were 10 remaining in the US (the last remaining store, above, has become something of a tourist spot)
Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings sits in a cart full of ready-to-be-shipped DVDs in 2002. Hasting pitched Blockbuster on buying his company for $50M but was rejected
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 $50million price tag was mentioned.
At the time, Blockbuster was the dominant player in the DVD and video rental market. The firm reached its peak in November 2004, with 84,300 employees and 9,094 stores worldwide.
However, whilst Netflix introduced its streaming service in 2007, Blockbuster failed to adapt and its decline was swift. The firm filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010.
The following year, Dish Network bought Blockbuster’s 1,700 remaining stores before the last company-owned stores closed in 2013. Blockbuster’s 528 stores in Britain were among those that had to close.
Meanwhile, from 2007 onwards, Netflix’s popularity ballooned, with the firm widening its usability to the Xbox360, Blu-ray players and TV set-top boxes in 2008.
In 2019, a manager 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 January 16, 2013
The Bend franchise in Oregon became the last one standing after the world’s penultimate Blockbuster announced it would be closing its doors in Perth, Australia, that year.
And among the reasons for its continued success, along with a community spirit and great customer service, is because some of the older regulars don’t have access to, or are unable to use, online streaming services such as Netflix, an employee said.
‘Some of them just don’t want to access the new culture of technology, and some don’t have laptops or devices to stream the sites,’ said duty manager Dalton Chambers, who agreed it made sense that the store continues to thrive on DVDs alone because of the technology gap.
‘That also goes with things such as Blu-ray DVDs,’ Dalton told the DailyMail.com. ‘A lot of the older generations also just choose 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 an 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 long-time crush Eliza
Speaking to Pop Sugar about his new series, American actor Randall confessed 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 outdoorsy town, we’re just in the right niche that can keep things thriving.
‘People are like “oh, there’s the last Blockbuster surviving – let’s keep it going!” – that’s everyone’s personas here – that’s our mantra.’
The Bend shop has remained 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 confessed he had mixed feelings about streaming.
He said: ‘I love the convenience of streaming. I will say there is something really special about having to work for your content a little bit and making an event out of the actual choice.
‘I do long for the simplicity of those times, and as Timmy says, the human interaction that comes with that.
‘Talking to the clerk at the store, getting recommendations, giving recommendations, all of those things, in real time. I think it’s fun. And it’s something that we don’t have anymore, unfortunately.’
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk