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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Would you even notice if Blockbuster went out of business?

Following up in yesterday’s QOTD about Netflix’s new pricing for blu-ray rentals (hint: it went up, a lot) is this: Apparently Blockbuster is on the verge of throwing in the towel, and not voluntarily (“Blockbuster: may not be able to stay in business,” says the AP via Yahoo! Finance).

I suspect how you feel about this may depend on whether you’re renting blu-rays from Netflix and are as pissed off at the new price plans as most other Netflixers seem to be. (Disclaimer: I still don’t have a blu-ray player, so even though I am a Netflix subscriber, the price increase isn’t affecting me). Don Reisinger at CNET’s The Digital Home, in the same post I linked to yesterday about Netflix, breaks down Blockbuster’s blu-ray pricing compared to Netflix, and finds Blockbuster the winner… even factoring in the convenience factor.

Would I notice if Blockbuster went out of business? Not at all. I still have a Blockbuster membership card somewhere in my wallet, but it’s been years since I used it — there simply isn’t a Blockbuster convenient to me, and even when there was, it was usually an act of frustration going into their stores and finding 300 copies of the latest Adam Sandler movie and no copies at all of many classic movies. I’m sticking with Netflix.

You? Would you even notice if Blockbuster went out of business?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)



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  • Magess

    I wouldn’t notice. The only time I ever go to Blockbuster is when Xbox, Amazon, and Netflix fail to let me rent something online that my friends and I want to watch at a party. That’s pretty rare, and will get increasingly rare.

  • marshall

    Not me. I have a family video pretty close to me, and I don’t even use that. We did rent blu-rays from Netflix, but we had to cut the service due to budget cuts.

  • srheug

    I will miss Blockbuster if they go down. Everyone seems to rag on Blockbuster, but I’ve rented from them for about 17 yrs. and always had great luck. I realize that they day of going into a store and renting a movie are slowly going away but I can be anywhere in the country and walk into a Blockbuster and rent a movie with no questions asked. Just show the little card. I do rent most movies online but will still miss the stores.

  • Liz

    I would; I sometimes go there to rent video games, and they’re the only store around here that rents them. I never go there for movies though.

  • Caro

    To be honest. No, if blockbuster went out of business I wouldn’t be bothered at all. I live in Canada but I would rather watch British telly than anything else.

    But, it makes me sad to think of all the little mom & pop video stores in my town that went out of business when blockbuster moved in… If blockbuster closes, there will be quite a few people (say like my parents) who will be at a loss for the occational movie that they used to pick up.

  • Ryan

    Not at all. I mean yes Blockbuster was the place to go a few years back. And I went there a lot. As soon as I got a Netflix account though, I never looked back.

    I think since they I’ve been to Blockbuster twice with friends wanting to watch a movie instantly. But then of course my friends started getting Netflix and then Netflix itself got into the Instant Watch business. Yeah. What’s Blockbuster?

  • Riley

    Nope. On the odd occasion I want to rent something I can go to the neighborhood rental place down the street. Not only is it much much much closer than Blockbuster, but it has 100,000 titles (including the adult section I assume). They have everything. Want a cult zombie film? I’m sure there’s a shelf labeled just that. It’s amazing.

  • cinecat

    Nope. I rarely rent movies–and when I do, it’s at the local independent video store. And if that one goes out of business, there are others. All of which are closer to me than the nearest Blockbuster.

    I’d be upset if Scarecrow Video went out of business–and I don’t even live in Seattle.

  • JoshB

    Blockbuster was my first job, so for sentimental reasons I would notice. On the other hand, I haven’t rented a movie in years. Oh well.

  • Saladinho

    I was forced to go to Netflix because all of the Blockbusters close to me closed down. A friend sent me a Netflix gift card, and I grudgingly (being a luddite) accepted it. Now I’m like: “Netflix or death!”

  • Anne

    We would miss it a lot. We use their online service and the convenience of being able to swap out movies at the local store trumps any other service for us.

  • Well I guess I’ll have to buck the trend and say I would. My girlfriend and I subscribe to the Blockbuster online Netflix knockoff. It basically works the same as Netflix, but you also get two free in-store rentals per month for a movie or a video game. And the pricing is about the same too. So I know it’s cool to hate Blockbuster and all, but it’s actually a pretty good deal. That being said, if they do go under, we’d probably just move over to Netflix without missing much of a beat.

  • Ryan

    Would not notice. I never even went to Blockbuster back when VHS was the thing and everybody rented. Cheaper place near the house called ‘Video Horizons’

  • I would celebrate. I was dismayed at their decision to not stock any of Woody Allen’s films after the Soon-Yi thing, so I stopped using them.

    Our local independent recently closed, but while they had a huge selection their service wasn’t great.

    Like many others, I have NetFlix now and have no need of a physical store.

  • Jim Mann

    No. Like so many other folks, I use Netflix. Part of that is convenience, but the biggest part of it is selection. A lot of what I like to watch are things that are harder to get, such as British TV. I’ve been watching Inspector Morse and Inspector Frost, as well as the great David Jason comedy series Only Fools and Horses.

    Jim

  • markyd

    Mary Ann(and several others here), you ARE aware that BB does the online rental thing, too, right? Sure doesn’t sound like it.
    I’ve subscribed to their online service for a few years now and have been quite happy with it. Plus, you get coupons for free movies from their stores, AND you can return a movie rented online to a store for a free rental. Works for me. I will certainly miss them if they shut down.
    Forgive me for not being hip and busting on BB.
    I’d hate to see Netflix monopolize online rentals. No competition = bad.

  • Mimi

    I got sick of Blockbuster’s bad selection, long lines, and appallingly bad customer service. And I love Netflix. That said, I don’t get blu-rays from Netflix, and I’m generally on board with the more-competition-is-better-for-consumers theory, so I’ll be sorry if Netflix starts jerking me around in a post-Blockbuster world.

  • Nope. Haven’t darkened their doors in years. If the library doesn’t have it, Netflix does. If Netflix doesn’t have it, nobody does. Time to hit ebay then, looking for, erm, unofficial copies, if I’m really desperate to see something.

  • Ryan

    markyd, I knew about Blockbuster’s online service, but I also use Netflix because they have a greater selection than Blockbuster. I watch a ton of foreign and LGBT films which Blockbuster just do not have.

    Plus, yes, British shows.

  • Pollas

    I’d cry, scream, and pull my hair out… Okay, maybe not. But yes, I would definitely notice if Blockbuster went out of business. I rent from there all the time. I used Netflix, but I wasn’t satisfied with the service so I switched to Blockbuster. I’ve stuck with Blockbuster.

  • C.E.G.

    I would definitely notice. I use my coke rewards points to rent movies there. I don’t have enough free “movie watching” time to justify the cost of a by-mail movie service. I probably only rent once or twice a month, but it is a great and cheap (practically free with coke rewards) date night for my boyfriend and me.

  • Althea

    The last time I set foot in a Blockbuster was to see if they had a single videotape to sell me in a hurry. I get almost all my DVDs from the public library, and anything they don’t have, there’s a super indie video store just down the street, replete with foreign films, doccos, series British & American TV, classics, and anything else I might want that Blockbuster never had.

  • JoshB

    I got sick of Blockbuster’s…appallingly bad customer service

    Given the minimal customer service requirements of video store work I would be most curious to know what it took for them to qualify as appallingly bad.

  • amanohyo

    Every once in a while, my family will sequentially take advantage of a “first month free” promotion at Blockbuster or Netflix. We’ve probably actually paid to rent or borrow a movie three times in the last fifteen years. I’m extremely paranoid about allowing any of my money to trickle up into the pockets of lousy filmmakers.

    I’m also so cheap/patient that 95% of the time, I just wait for the library to get a copy… or theater hop at a second run theater… which means that almost none of my money trickles up into the pockets of decent filmmakers either. Oh well, it’s a price I’m willing to not pay. When I really feel strongly about supporting a movie, I’m willing to buy a ticket. Voting with our dollar is the only voice we poor peons of the entertainment industry have.

  • chiclit

    I have had Netflix for the past year and been quite pleased with it. I am terrible about returning things, I never know when I am going to be in a DVD mood or not, and I might go weeks without watching stuff. I used to buy used copies of DVDs but Netflix works well. And no one has mentioned the “Red Box” type rentals that are springing up all over. If I am having company and need something other than what I have from Netflix I can pick up dollar rental at the Red Box vending machine..

  • MBI

    Online DVD rentals are great, but what if you decide you need a movie on Friday night and you’ve got nothing at hand? I love my Netflix but I hope video stores stick around.

  • Jennifer

    Considering my brother works for Blockbuster and both he and his fiancee are in/going back to school, I sure hope they stick around. Or he’s going to be out of a job and screwed. =

    I personally don’t use either service, because I’m a poor college student and can live on movies I already own. But if I had to go with anything I would go with Blockbuster probably because of the bias I have. And because of that I know the store back home is quite good because of the fact that my brother (and another friend of mine) work there.

    I do think they’re in quite a bit of trouble as my brother has said they’re starting to sell other stuff in the store (electronics and such). But even so I hope they stick around. It’s nice having a movie store around. I’ve already gone through the purging of other movie stores disappearing, that was hard enough. I feel like everything familiar is disappearing =(

  • Fuggle

    Yeah, a bit. Where else am I gonna get six used but functional dvds for $20?

  • Plain and simple, I wouldn’t even care about it.

  • Rykker

    I would have noticed, and been bummed, a few years ago, but I haven’t set foot in a Blockbuster in ages.
    If I rent anymore these days, I go to Hollywood Video; Blockbuster’s competition in this neck of the woods. They’re a smaller corporate chain, with only two stores that I know of in the tri-county area (versus the nine of Blockbuster), but they’ve always had a deeper, more varied selection, even after Blockbuster revamped its inventory.

  • bats :[

    We have an indie video store about a mile from us. Its selection is so vast (foreign, “art,” BBC stuff, all the Academy Award winners up to and including “Wings,” anime, and yes…Porn!) that people from throughout the city come to it.
    BB has had such a crappy selection of unusual titles, and worse, such a lousy attitude toward what it views as morality, the only thing I’d find sad is yet more empty storefronts. If BB shutting down, at least in our town, keeps Casa Video going, so be it.

  • If I rent anymore these days, I go to Hollywood Video; Blockbuster’s competition in this neck of the woods. They’re a smaller corporate chain, with only two stores that I know of in the tri-county area (versus the nine of Blockbuster), but they’ve always had a deeper, more varied selection, even after Blockbuster revamped its inventory.

    I thought Hollywood Video went out of business. At least all the Hollywood Videos here in Dallas have closed down.

    As for Blockbuster…

    I used to rent there but so many of the movies and TV shows that I’m most interested in are available for rental at the local library–and if there’s not available there, there’s always this local indy video store called Premiere Video that manages to have a wider selection than most Blockbuster Stores. (Or to put it another way, they have the type of varied inventory that Blockbuster used to have back in the early 1990s but no longer has.)

    And yes, I like NetFlix too. It took a while but I finally got a membership last year–and I can’t help kicking myself for all the years I didn’t have one–and all the extra money I spent on DVDs as a result.

    As for the demise of Blockbuster, er, after seeing three acquaintances laid off from their non-video-related jobs last month, I don’t have the heart to wish a demise to anyone’s business. Even if it seems inevitable…

  • lunarangel01

    I would notice only because I rent movies once every few months or so, which is not enough for me to justify the monthly fee that Netflix has (though that may have changed since they started Netflix; I haven’t checked). Hollywood Video has disappeared around here as well. There aren’t any local video stores nearby, so I’ll be SOL if they close down Blockbuster.

    Meh. Lately I’ve been trying to get away from my TV and internet by volunteering, hiking, and reading more often anyway.

  • TrojanDawg

    I sure wouldn’t notice. The funny thing is I used to be frequent BB renter. Now I get all my movie rentals from the public library for free. No blueray but when the price is right how can one really complain?

  • MaryAnn

    If blockbuster closes, there will be quite a few people (say like my parents) who will be at a loss for the occational movie that they used to pick up.

    Yes, that’s true. I have a friend who is quite elderly — like, 80 — which I mention only because her age is relevant to her lack of a computer and her unwillingness to ever get one. She’s never going to be able to use Netflix, and she has lamented to me the closing of the nearest Blockbuster to where we live. (If Blockbuster survives, it will be partly because it has already closed down lots of stores.) I’m loaning her some of my DVDs, but that’s not the same as her being able to go into a local store and find what she wants.

    Maybe Netflix could add a by-phone service…

  • MaryAnn

    Mary Ann(and several others here), you ARE aware that BB does the online rental thing, too, right? Sure doesn’t sound like it.

    I am aware of that, though I have not tried it, since I’ve been perfectly happy with Netflix.

    Online DVD rentals are great, but what if you decide you need a movie on Friday night and you’ve got nothing at hand? I love my Netflix but I hope video stores stick around.

    That’s true, too: Netflix is no good for last-minute rentals. What about PPV, though? I can order almost any hot new movie in the home-video arena through my cable company, at a price comparable to a rental…

  • y

    The last movie I rented from a physical rental store was “Signs” if that’s any indication of how long it has been. So, no, I won’t miss them. Besides, when I went I rented from Hollywood Video, not Blockbuster. Blockbuster has always sucked hardcore in my area.

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