I actually rented a DVD from Blockbuster Video last weekend, for the first time in three years. Not because I missed going there, it was because my Netflix had not arrived in Saturday's mail and I was bored.
I'm like many people who have traded bricks for clicks when it comes to renting movies. I agree with fellow WalletPop blogger Barbara Bartlein about Blockbuster's screwy pricing policy. Plus, when Netflix offers everything from obscure Italian horror flicks to Season 1 of "Six Feet Under," it's hard to be impressed by Blockbuster's three-wall display of "New Releases," most of which have been rented, and its remaining few aisles of "Favorites" that are continuously airing on cable networks like TNT and USA for free.
So Blockbuster is probably blaming people like Barbara and me as the reasons why it may not survive the recession. Its auditors say the rental company is probably not generating enough cash to fund operations, meaning Blockbuster may soon be filing for bankruptcy. Seems like Blockbuster just has too many competitors, from Netflix to iTunes downloads to those red kiosks near grocery store checkout counters offering new releases for 99 cents. Why bother making an extra stop on the way home to pick up a DVD when you can just click "Add to Queue" or "Download" on your computer?
Mike Madden of Salon has a good take on why Blockbuster belongs in "The Brand Graveyard." I too don't have much sympathy if Blockbuster tanks.
When VCR rentals were de rigeur when I was growing up, I remember going to my corner video store, where the married owners Patty and Randy would recommend a new kid-friendly release for me and promise my Dad they would set aside a copy of the next James Bond film when it came out on tape. I would chew away on Patty's homemade brownies while she and Randy opined with my parents about why Hollywood didn't make movies the way they used to. They didn't make local corner video stores like they used to either, because after Blockbuster came to town, Patty and Randy had to close up shop, despite loyal customers like us trying to keep them afloat. So we were stuck with Blockbuster's walls of schlock, its teenage tape stockers whose top picks were Beavis & Butthead and Mortal Kombat II, and its neon blue-and-yellow color scheme that was as screamingly mediocre as any Hollywood "family friendly" film.
Netflix was a godsend -- I could pick any movie, documentary or obscure TV series I wanted. Netflix did a good job of suggesting other flicks I might like, and I got far better movie recaps from its "Member Reviews" than I did from any surly Blockbuster staffer.
I still haven't returned my Blockbuster movie, so I'm probably going to be charged $2 for each day I missed. I doubt my $6 late fees will help the company get out of its hole. Ironically, the movie I had to settle for (since everything else was rented out) was the Angelina Jolie flick Wanted -- a word most DVD renters wouldn't use for Blockbuster anymore.
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