The first video rental store appeared in L.A. in 1979. Nearly 30 years later, the in-store movie rental experience seems destined to disappear.
1) Blockbuster announced in late June they’ll be closing 282 stores. In 2006, they closed 290, many in close proximity to other Blockbuster locations.
2) In early July, Movie Gallery — the 2nd largest U.S. video store chain, with 4600 N. American stores — announced they could not meet credit obligations and may default. CEO Joe Malugen was quoted as saying “We, like most of the industry, have experienced a sharp decline in our rental business.” Movie Gallery may attempt to speed up store closings or examine other options, like selling.
3) Rent-by-mail giant Netflix announced deals with a series of actors including Tim Robbins, Clint Eastwood and Maggie Gyllenhaal, all looking for the right outlet for personal projects. Additionally, Netflix is now offering movies via PC, and building its exclusive distribution model, as stars and distributors gain confidence in the service’s “recommendation” system.
As the Netflix vs. Blockbuster online battle wages on and downloading movies via services like Amazon’s Unbox gets more accessible (and competitively priced), the reasons for store visits — and ownership — are dwindling.
GEEK NOTE: That first video store? Video Station, started when George Atkinson bought — and then offered — 50 classic movies on video including The French Connection and The Sound of Music. Fees were $10 a day, but very few people could even afford VCRs in 1979.
QUESTION: Would you care if video stores disappeared? How do you currrently get movies to watch at home? TELL US