Despite being largely closed for 15 years, and fully shuttered for 10, the once legendary Blockbuster looks to rise from the dead. Should you find yourself on their website on a computer you’ll see the message “We are working on rewinding your movie,” and the mobile edition reads “Be kind while we rewind.”
While not a confirmed and locked-up deal, the appearance that the storied company could be returning is enough to raise curiosity across the globe. Saved by Dish Network from bankruptcy in 2011, the chain hasn’t maintained any functional stores aside from one franchise in Oregon since at least 2013. While two Alaskan franchises clung on as long they could, the OR outlier seems to be there just for the photo ops and Air BnB promotional listings.
The chain of movie stores quickly grew from its first location in Dallas, TX back in 1985. As Americans started embracing VHS as well as Betamax home cassettes, the pricing for buying movies was sky-high. Renting tapes from a local shop, watching, and returning them was the solution for many. It meant they didn’t have to shell out hundreds for a single movie, and instead just shelled out a few bucks.
Naturally, competitors like Hollywood Video sprung up and gave them a run for their money with a quickness. Despite this move, Blockbuster hung on and continued to spread into small towns across the US. Their business model was fantastic until innovations with the option of rental machines. Hundreds of DVDs were suddenly showing up in kiosks in malls and convenience stores across America.
While this put a kink in the armor of Blockbuster, it was Netflix that would ultimately bury the company.
The DVD by mail company made the process of getting movies easier than ever, and for people who didn’t want to sit in traffic, this was the perfect solution since you could order your DVDs online and they would be there within 48 hours due to warehouses across the nation. Despite this, they tried getting Blockbuster to buy them out and were laughed out of the room. In turn, they brought movies into the world of streaming and drove the final nails in the coffin of Blockbuster with gusto.
With Dish doing very little with the brand since its acquisition, many suspect that this could be their entry into the streaming foray. With nearly every network on cable and satellite TV having its streaming service and the seemingly obvious introduction of live-streaming television, they need something new.
Bringing back Blockbuster to try and go toe to toe with a digital version of their same model in Amazon Prime would be a genius move. While Netflix and Hulu license content for free streaming, Amazon Prime offers new movies for sale or rent that you can store in a digital video rack. This means no late fees and no worries about a movie not renewing a license.
As nice as this would be, the lack of an official word and the mention of “rewind” in the message leaves too many possibilities to nail down. However, something new is certainly coming from this once-storied franchise. With the craziness that COVID has brought the American people, nothing is off the table for happening in 2023. But this was certainly not the guess most would have made.
For now, we should take solace in the fact that this could be one of the newest signs of the apocalypse. While the Bible talked about we would not know when it would happen, but we should rest assured knowing that the Lord will return. Considering how Blockbuster was betrayed, crucified, tossed into a cave, and is now coming back…it’s not outside the realm of possibilities.