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"The Fall Of Blockbuster Video" 
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Burning Godzilla
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Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:24 pm
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Burning Godzilla
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El Santo wrote:
Bergerjacques wrote:
The only thing I'm bringing to this conversation is that two locally-owned video rental places in the small towns near me are still doing good business.

I seem to remember you saying that internet service in your area was rather backward, with most people still having dial-up connections. Is that still the case? Because if it's outrageously difficult or expensive to get good broadband internet, then your local home-entertainment ecosystem looks a lot more like the one that video rental shops used to thrive in than it does the one where Blockbuster and Hollywood Video couldn't survive.


In my area, yes. My internet service provider is Exede Satellite. For $100+ a month, I get unbridled use of a whole 19 GB per month - no more. That's computer streaming, downloads, uploads, phone connection (because our cell phone tower is too obscured by the hills), and whatever I use Nintendo WiiU for. (Mostly as a desk.) Its pretty good unless I opt for 1080p viewing of programs - that's when the gigs get swallowed whole. (Not a big deal to watch things in "normal" DVD quality resolution.)
Kentucky has contracted with an Australian firm for fiber-optic systems to enable high speed internet, but that's not supposed to come around until 2017 or 18, and even then I'm not holding my breath for my particular location. I am not located in an area that would be a high priority as it does not connect to densely populated areas.
Carlisle, Kentucky is impoverished enough that we do have a local video rental business that provides a subsistence level living for one family.
The two I talk about are located in an area where prospects are significantly better. There is Time-Warner cable for the city and there are broadband options in most of the countryside. But it still requires a level of income that many rural dwellers - a substantial population at that - don't have. Its much cheaper to plunk down $85 for a serviceable dvd and $2 for a 4-5 day rental of one movie than spend $80-100 a month for internet access or hang out in the county public library to watch your $12 Netflix subscription from a free wifi hookup.

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Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:39 pm
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Reading the article I found myself struggling to remember what Blockbuster meant to me, as a consumer, and came up blank. Spent a fair amount of time in Blockbusters over the years, but developed no sense whatsoever of what its identity was as a brand. Have no recollection of ever spending a second of thought considering whether Blockbuster should have been classified as "entertainment" or "retail." They had a bunch of movies, and they readily faded from my life once I started getting those movies in other ways.


Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:54 pm
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Burning Godzilla
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Benjamin wrote:
Reading the article I found myself struggling to remember what Blockbuster meant to me, as a consumer, and came up blank. Spent a fair amount of time in Blockbusters over the years, but developed no sense whatsoever of what its identity was as a brand. Have no recollection of ever spending a second of thought considering whether Blockbuster should have been classified as "entertainment" or "retail." They had a bunch of movies, and they readily faded from my life once I started getting those movies in other ways.

For me, it was less a question of what Blockbuster specifically meant, and more what the video rental shop business model meant. The thing about brick-and-mortar business establishments-- regardless of whether you classify them as "entertainment," "retail," or anything else-- is that using them inherently becomes an excursion. Shopping on the Material Plane is something to do in a way that shopping online is not. I greatly enjoyed leaving my house, browsing the shelves at this or that video store, and picking out something to watch that very night. I greatly enjoyed the variations in selection from one store to another, together with the thrill of turning up some oddball rarity at one place that could be found nowhere else. Curating my Netflix queue based on assumptions about what I'll be in the mood to watch at some unspecified point days or weeks in the future doesn't scratch the same itch. It leaves no room for impulse, no room for serendipity. The company's streaming service comes a little closer, but falls short whenever I don't have at least some idea what I'm looking for-- and as we've discussed in other threads, the selection gets a little poorer every time another studio or distributor gets it into their heads to launch a streaming video platform of their own. Neither one, meanwhile, gets me out into the world where the rest of the human race is. Losing Blockbuster wouldn't have bothered me overmuch if it had been just them that went out of business, but in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area, Blockbuster's demise took the whole market segment down with it. To the best of my knowledge, there is not a single operational video rental shop from Belair to Arlington, or from Frederick to the Chesapeake Bay. And while I may miss Blockbuster only a little, I pine for the Video Vault, Metro Video, Potomac Video, Staples Corner Video, and the rest.

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Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:00 pm
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Count me in the same camp as Santo in missing the smaller stores more than Blockbuster. And I echo the serendipitous nature of the whole endeavor too. There was so much more exploration of a store's selection, which as a younger teenager played a HUGE part in being on this board today. Just having the ability to go to a mom and pop store with my friend and search out stuff that we didn't have as kids whose parents didn't get cable was so formative in regards to my current tastes in film. Which gives me an idea for another topic....

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Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:42 pm
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KO Rob wrote:
Count me in the same camp as Santo in missing the smaller stores more than Blockbuster. And I echo the serendipitous nature of the whole endeavor too. There was so much more exploration of a store's selection, which as a younger teenager played a HUGE part in being on this board today. Just having the ability to go to a mom and pop store with my friend and search out stuff that we didn't have as kids whose parents didn't get cable was so formative in regards to my current tastes in film. Which gives me an idea for another topic....


That was one thing to look forward too on a Friday or Saturday night. Pam and I would go to the video store and spend an hour negotiating. When the hot new releases were out, we would turn to our favorite genres. She was into the romance, comedies and dramas. I was trying to sell her on Bad Taste, an interesting looking Full Moon video title, or some semi-obscure art house release.

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Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:59 pm
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Wow, I had no idea it could be that total a shutdown in a major metro area. In my region, there are still a few mom&pops and a couple of mini-chains such as Five Star and Meadows, plus specialty places which carry, like, only adult stuff or only films in Spanish or Tagalog.

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Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:25 pm
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supersonic man wrote:
Wow, I had no idea it could be that total a shutdown in a major metro area. In my region, there are still a few mom&pops and a couple of mini-chains such as Five Star and Meadows, plus specialty places which carry, like, only adult stuff or only films in Spanish or Tagalog.

We have a huge Indian population in my area of New Jersey (two of the most densely populated areas in the US: Edison and Piscataway NJ), and some of the few brick and mortar video/dvd stores that you see are in these areas, where they rent strictly Hindi-language movies.

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Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:40 pm
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Burning Godzilla
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There are no video rental places other than adult only in the Chattanooga area, not counting those Redbox things.

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Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:52 pm
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Burning Godzilla
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El Santo wrote:
Benjamin wrote:
Reading the article I found myself struggling to remember what Blockbuster meant to me, as a consumer, and came up blank. Spent a fair amount of time in Blockbusters over the years, but developed no sense whatsoever of what its identity was as a brand. Have no recollection of ever spending a second of thought considering whether Blockbuster should have been classified as "entertainment" or "retail." They had a bunch of movies, and they readily faded from my life once I started getting those movies in other ways.

For me, it was less a question of what Blockbuster specifically meant, and more what the video rental shop business model meant. The thing about brick-and-mortar business establishments-- regardless of whether you classify them as "entertainment," "retail," or anything else-- is that using them inherently becomes an excursion. Shopping on the Material Plane is something to do in a way that shopping online is not. I greatly enjoyed leaving my house, browsing the shelves at this or that video store, and picking out something to watch that very night. I greatly enjoyed the variations in selection from one store to another, together with the thrill of turning up some oddball rarity at one place that could be found nowhere else. Curating my Netflix queue based on assumptions about what I'll be in the mood to watch at some unspecified point days or weeks in the future doesn't scratch the same itch. It leaves no room for impulse, no room for serendipity. The company's streaming service comes a little closer, but falls short whenever I don't have at least some idea what I'm looking for-- and as we've discussed in other threads, the selection gets a little poorer every time another studio or distributor gets it into their heads to launch a streaming video platform of their own. Neither one, meanwhile, gets me out into the world where the rest of the human race is. Losing Blockbuster wouldn't have bothered me overmuch if it had been just them that went out of business, but in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area, Blockbuster's demise took the whole market segment down with it. To the best of my knowledge, there is not a single operational video rental shop from Belair to Arlington, or from Frederick to the Chesapeake Bay. And while I may miss Blockbuster only a little, I pine for the Video Vault, Metro Video, Potomac Video, Staples Corner Video, and the rest.


Using Google Maps I found a Village Video up in my neck of the woods, right outside of Bel Air. And there seem to be a bunch of them on Rt 40 but they appear to be kiosk operations in convenience stores or gas stations, or adult video stores. Rt 40 is the place for porn, equipment rental, retail distribution warehouses, and storage rentals.

I think the experience you describe indeed places video rental in the 'entertainment' category for you. You were engaged, maybe not in the way Blockbuster assumed you would be, but nonetheless.

Perhaps I didn't keep tabs with video rental in general during Blockbusters reign but it seemed to me when four Blockbusters took over Harford County the mom and pops dried up. Then when Blockbuster left there was only Redbox. And when they are gone there will be Rt 40 porn.

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Sat Nov 07, 2015 8:12 am
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Two doors down from my office there is a Family Video outlet, and thank Scrod for it -- there's a large selection and many, many, many of the titles are 2 for $1 for 5 nights. But they are sorely lacking in older titles, especially the ones they now call classics -- old Monty Clift, Tracy & Hepburn, Shirley Temple, Bogey & Bacall or even John Waynely type of movies. Instead they have the 1,001 Night And A Night Of Found Footage/Unsteadicam Action Movies.

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Tue Nov 10, 2015 7:39 pm
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KO Rob wrote:
supersonic man wrote:
Wow, I had no idea it could be that total a shutdown in a major metro area. In my region, there are still a few mom&pops and a couple of mini-chains such as Five Star and Meadows, plus specialty places which carry, like, only adult stuff or only films in Spanish or Tagalog.

We have a huge Indian population in my area of New Jersey (two of the most densely populated areas in the US: Edison and Piscataway NJ), and some of the few brick and mortar video/dvd stores that you see are in these areas, where they rent strictly Hindi-language movies.


I will trade my soul for a subtitled copy of Two Town Rowdy. It's the Bollywood version of Streets of Fire.

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Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:01 am
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Burning Godzilla
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TelstarMan wrote:
KO Rob wrote:
supersonic man wrote:
Wow, I had no idea it could be that total a shutdown in a major metro area. In my region, there are still a few mom&pops and a couple of mini-chains such as Five Star and Meadows, plus specialty places which carry, like, only adult stuff or only films in Spanish or Tagalog.

We have a huge Indian population in my area of New Jersey (two of the most densely populated areas in the US: Edison and Piscataway NJ), and some of the few brick and mortar video/dvd stores that you see are in these areas, where they rent strictly Hindi-language movies.


I will trade my soul for a subtitled copy of Two Town Rowdy. It's the Bollywood version of Streets of Fire.

I'll keep my eyes peeled. Would it only have received a video release?

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When 'Celebrity Deathmatch' just isn't nuanced enough for you @ The KO Picture Show "Reviewing the best (and worst) in Pugilistic Pictures!"

"I've always imagined you as Tom Servo, in my head." - Ed the IX paying me one helluva nice (if unintended) compliment.

"Hoots, Sister Morag. I can no' find pleasure in haggis anymore." - Beggar So's Hat

"I'm back, and I'm more evil than before! HAW HAW HEE!" - Mr. Mind, feelin' it


Wed Nov 11, 2015 3:52 am
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Burning Godzilla
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KO Rob wrote:
TelstarMan wrote:
KO Rob wrote:
We have a huge Indian population in my area of New Jersey (two of the most densely populated areas in the US: Edison and Piscataway NJ), and some of the few brick and mortar video/dvd stores that you see are in these areas, where they rent strictly Hindi-language movies.


I will trade my soul for a subtitled copy of Two Town Rowdy. It's the Bollywood version of Streets of Fire.

I'll keep my eyes peeled. Would it only have received a video release?


I have absolutely no idea.

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Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:32 am
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Victoria Silverwolf wrote:
I suppose I'm not the first to note the irony of the company's name, then.

Around here the stores that sold only "adult" videos are pretty much all gone, disappearing at about the same time as the mainstream video stores.


The Internet did serious damage to the porn-shop business. The successes I know of are wider-ranged than just DVDs - many of them sell adult toys and lingerie, as well. The biggest one in Minneapolis, Sex World, not only carries all three as well as magazines, but has both video and live peepshows. It also used to have an attached strip club until legal issues shut it down.

And this was Mr. Paradox with your Daily TMI.

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Wed Nov 11, 2015 5:26 am
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