Article about how Blockbuster Video went out of business

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by PaulKTF, Oct 19, 2016.

  1. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    I came across this great multi-part article that shares the story about how Blockbuster Video went from being a powerhouse to going out of business.

    "When Blockbuster Forgot What Business They Were In".

    When Blockbuster Forgot What Business They Were In | Dain Dunston »

    The article reminded me of how revolutionary Blockbuster Video was in the late 80's and early 90's. It really was great for a while.
     
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  2. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Location:
    Marple, PA, USA
    Great reading.

    I remember so well the frustration with titles being out of stock, the lack of older movies, the focus on movies for teenagers, the stupid specials with Coke Popcorn and candy.
    There was a Hollywood video up by my mother's house that had a selection of amazing older titles. I rented some cool stuff from there to show my wife..

    Back to the article--classic example of rich big shots so full of themselves that they have the judgment of a dead tree. Then they move on with a pocket full of severance and the poor schlubs at the bottom fill out unemployment forms.
     
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  3. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    The sad thing is that for awhile in the 2000's they were heading in the right direction, but they seem to have gone downhill shockingly fast.

    I remember that Hollywood Video used to stock Criterion Collection DVDs- that was so great! :)
     
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  4. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Location:
    Marple, PA, USA
    Another thing: either the kids they hired were not savvy or the system was crappy--the guarantees (after late fees were killed) wouldn't register when you'd get to the front. The charges would be ridiculous and you'd have to look at the screen . our local store had issues with the security gate--it would scream after your movies would be 'cleared'. And I was told it wasn't long before kids recognized that and they'd rent on and put one down their pants , the gate would scream and they'd just turn it off so the kid could leave and presto--'legal larceny' as zAl Mundy out it.
     
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  5. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    To me it was very sad to see a lot of hard-working people lose their jobs. And to watch the retail locations evaporate. I always had a good experience with Blockbuster. I hope they all found new, and better jobs.

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. dkmonroe

    dkmonroe A completely self-taught idiot

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Fascinating article. I never would have guessed that so much was squandered so quickly.
     
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  7. No Static

    No Static Gain Rider

    Location:
    Alabama
    Having been the Pop in a "Mom and Pop" for over 10 years ('83-'93) I found the article interesting.

    But the bad decisions made just accelerated the demise of a national chain like Blockbuster...it was going to happen soon enough anyway. The combination of video streaming, movies-on-demand, Redbox, next generation "down-time" choices and the whole rental business model loaded the deck against continued success.
     
  8. kwadguy

    kwadguy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    Great article, thanks.

    Yeah, I never quite understood why Blockbuster bailed on the mail order Netflix competition thing. They were competitive and had the return-to-store advantage.

    Well, now I know.

    The stupidity of hubris.
     
  9. Benno123

    Benno123 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ohio
    The last Blockbuster I went to was close to our place at Lake Erie maybe 6 or 7 seasons ago. I don't remember what I rented but it was like $6 for a night, when I could have gone down the road to Walmart and buy the same thing for $9 more. Too bad though because they had a nice selection to choose from, too.
     
    tomunbound likes this.
  10. gitters

    gitters Forum Resident

    Most chain video stores went downhill when they started selling off all their VHS tapes. A lot of stores no longer had a decent selection of catalogue titles after changing formats, then forcing a person to buy about anything that they wanted to see that wasn't a new release. So, i'm not suprised that Netflix drove Blocknuster out of business. Family Video is the only chain that has survived isn't it? Again i'm not impressed with their selection of catalogue titles witch they call Classics witch is made up of the same predictable titles that you can see on tbs, tnt, amc etc evry weekend.
     
    Dude111 likes this.
  11. George Blair

    George Blair Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR
    I disliked the stupid "blockbuster" theme with searchlight motif, crappy candy, overpriced snacks, etc. In short, everything that was wrong with the movie experience, they thought was good marketing.
     
  12. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    I remember the popcorn/candy/soda was marked way, way up to the point where I would never consider buying it there when I could get it at the grocery store for so much cheaper.
     
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  13. JBStephens

    JBStephens I am not a "peep", thank you very much.

    Location:
    South Mountain, NC
    All that reminds me of Burger King. The burgers uses to be very, very good. Then they started the downhill slide. Pretty soon Burger Kings were closing everywhere. Fake fries, lousy burgers, terrible milkshakes, etc. They forgot that the place is called BURGER king, not Healthy Chicken Fajita Salad King. They forgot their purpose.
     
  14. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Agreed!

    Burger King's burgers have shrunk considerably in the last 15 or so years. I remember in the mid/late 90's the food was a lot better- the burgers were bigger and tastier, and the chicken tenders were a lot better, too.

    Burger King used to be towards the top of my list of favorite fast food places but the decline in quality has been really severe and it's been bad for a long time.

    I'm all for more diverse/healthier things on the menu but they can't even seem to get burgers and fries right anymore.
     
  15. lv70smusic

    lv70smusic Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    I liked your post, but Blockbuster could have been a threat to Netflix (as indicated in the article). At one point, I was a subscriber to both Netflix and Blockbuster. Sure, many of their physical locations might have closed any way but the company could have survived or even thrived the way Netflix has. They just didn't plot the right course.
     
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  16. jojopuppyfish

    jojopuppyfish Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    I use to work at a video story in the 1980s
    95 percent of the video business is new titles. Old titles hardly move.
    You left out 1 thing above:
    Studios starting selling dvds rather than pricing them for rentals.
    VHS tapes were $90 each
    The article left out that not only did Blockbuster close, so did all the local mom and pop video stores.
     
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  17. lv70smusic

    lv70smusic Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    There are a few here and there where I live, but no video rental stores close to me. My old neighborhood used to have five different video rental stores and they have all been closed for a long time now.
     
  18. kwadguy

    kwadguy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA

    Yes, and when the studios removed the rental pricing window, pricing videos for sell-through on release day, that definitely started to kill the rental place.

    But Blockbuster managed to maneuver around that by (as noted in the article) signing agreements with the studios that allowed them prices and return privileges that made it possible to stock huge numbers of of title on release week and ended the out of stock issue.
     
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  19. No Static

    No Static Gain Rider

    Location:
    Alabama
    That option was available to independents, too, as a clunky system named Rentrak. The theory was much better than the actual execution due to the percentage kept by the store was too low to be made up in volume of rentals out the door.

    And I did miss the sell through price change mentioned up thread. That was a big deal because we couldn't match big box store pricing,
     
  20. dkmonroe

    dkmonroe A completely self-taught idiot

    Location:
    Atlanta
    We bought shelving from our local Blockbuster when it closed. Most of our DVD/Blu-ray collection is in one and the other holds books in an outside shed. My best friend came over and laid eyes on that huge edifice crammed with media and he was like, "Wow!" :laugh: We painted the indoors one the same color as our walls so it doesn't look too out of place, but it does make us look like disc-hoarding maniacs. :evil:

    I really loved buying used DVD's and BD's at Blockbuster. That was my real attraction to it at the end. But the real glory days was when renting was in vogue. My wife and I spent many happy hours browsing for rentals in the early 2000's. I still remember renting VHS players from Blockbuster in the 80's. It was a great entertainment mainstay for so long. If it still existed, I'd still use it. We do Redbox occasionally now, but it's barely the same thing.
     
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  21. Mirrorblade.1

    Mirrorblade.1 Forum Resident

    I read similar article in time Magazine a couple years..
    It was more in depth mentioning the small business video stores
    At one point blockbuster was opening a new store every 24hrs at height of early 90's
    Blockbuster was expensive like Hollywood Video and films they had edited..
    From I heard from others.. I still have my blockbuster sunglass's promo I got
     
  22. Dave Garrett

    Dave Garrett Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston, TX
    They absolutely could have been, but the article doesn't really mention one of the biggest reasons why: in 1999-2000, Blockbuster entered into a partnership with Enron Broadband Services to develop a video-on-demand business. EBS had much of the technical infrastructure to enable such a business already in place, as they'd been engaged in a large-scale, very rapid buildout of their network for some time. For various reasons, Blockbuster eventually pulled out of the deal, and Enron's subsequent implosion rendered it a moot point. Not something that's remembered much now.

    If Only Blockbuster had Listened to Enron … – Tech Talk »
     
  23. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    A great video about the history of the company:

     
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  24. tommy-thewho

    tommy-thewho Forum Resident

    Location:
    detroit, mi
    Great article.
     
  25. Scopitone

    Scopitone I wanna be Archtop when I grow up

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    I used both mail-order services in the mid-00's. Blockbuster was a bit slower at mail turn-around. But their "Total Access" model - which the article highlights - really was fantastic. I could use the mail-order to get a classic film or TV show (I remember getting discs of the George Reeves Superman by mail), and then return them to the store to trade for something more modern.

    Their streaming service never really got off the ground, but there's no reason it couldn't have been as good or better than Netflix's. I had no idea Netflix was that close to closing in 2007.

    Our local Blockbuster here in my town limped along at least until late 2012 (I was renting a lot of horror films in October that year). I think it probably closed in 2013. Just like the article says, they had the store filled with retail crap instead of rentals, so the back catalog wasn't as solid as it could have been. But I could always find something for $1. I was sad when it went away.

    Now that the streaming services have a virtual monopoly on back-catalog rentals (read: anything more than a year old), we're forced to pay their outrageous prices. Remember when we complained about Blockbuster's $3.99 new release prices? People now pay $4.99-5.99 for rentals on Amazon/iTunes/Vudu/GooglePlay/etc.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016

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