Feature

A fond lament for Blockbuster

When Blockbuster arrived on the scene 28 years ago, it “changed how we watched movies.”

Mark HughesThe Hollywood Reporter

The age of video stores is over, said Mark Hughes. When Blockbuster arrived on the scene 28 years ago, it “changed how we watched movies.” But now the “once ubiquitous chain” has closed its doors for good, and younger generations will never know what they are missing. At Blockbuster, “there was something entertaining about just walking down the aisles browsing the movie selections.” Video rental stores offered not just a selection of movies but also the pleasure of the search. You had to “get off the couch and go to the store,” which became an act of community; you could argue with your friends about what to watch, or even field recommendations from utter strangers. The chain tried to compete with mail-order, streaming, and on-demand services. But those attempts “never felt like a good fit for a store that was so clearly defined by the rental shopping experience.” Blockbuster could never break free from that past, and now we’re in a new era with an “ease of access, a quality of product, and a level of interaction that is amazing and impressive on every level.” Anything filmgoers today want is at their fingertips—whenever, wherever. “They will never know the ritual of the video store.” And for that, “I pity them.”

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