The final credits have seemingly rolled for Blockbuster on both sides of the Atlantic. The UK chain has entered administration again - the second time in 12 months.
The final credits have seemingly rolled for Blockbuster on both sides of the Atlantic.
The UK chain has entered administration again - the second time in 12 months - while in the US the remaining 300 Blockbuster stores are to close after its owner, Dish Network, finally realised there would be no happy ending for the retailer it acquired two years ago.
Blockbuster, whose brand became synonymous with video rental in the 1980s and 1990s, and whose growth was blamed for the decline of independent rivals, itself fell foul of seismic shifts in the marketplace that made it appear as useful as a grainy VHS in a world used to crystal-clear Blu-Ray discs.
When the end came it was more of a slow fadeout than a dramatic Hollywood ending.
In 2008 the American satirical news website The Onion published a video entitled ‘Blockbuster offers glimpse of movie renting past’. The clip follows visitors to the “Blockbuster Video Living Museum”, giving a glimpse of how Americans rented movies in a “time before the internet”, and where staff go to great lengths to explain the concept of video renting.
The clip succeeded because everybody knew it was true. Even five years ago, the video rental model already seemed outdated. In an age of YouTube, Netflix and iTunes why would anybody still visit a video rental shop?
With the hassle and inconvenience of physically visiting the store, the risk of not finding the film you wanted and then those pesky late-return fees at the other end, “it’s really amazing that people had to go through so much just to get a movie”, said a visitor in The Onion clip.
Now that consumers demand and expect almost instantaneous media gratification, the video rental model seems to be from a bygone age.
Perhaps what is most amazing is that Blockbuster managed to struggle on for years - a fish trying desperately to swim against the force of a tsunami.
In the end, enough was enough. Blockbuster has run its course and joins the growing list of legacy names that once held a place in our hearts but have disappeared from our high streets.
- Rob Gregory, Global research director, Planet Retail