Fan-Made Infographic Shows the Rise and Fall of Blockbuster Video
There's only one Blockbuster Video left in existence -- in Bend, Oregon, near where Hawkman lives [...]
There's only one Blockbuster Video left in existence -- in Bend, Oregon, near where Hawkman lives -- but the history of the franchise is fascinating. Founded in Texas in 1985, Blockbuster became a major commercial brand recognizable around the United States and the world throughout the '80s and '90s. By the time the company reached its peak in 2004, it had over 9,000 locations around the world, and as of right now, there is only one -- the one in Bend -- left open. And thanks to an enterprising fan on Reddit, you can track that progress in a short video infographic that goes month by month from 1986 until today.
The Bend store, for context, was never a Blockbuster corporate store but a franchise that licensed the name Blockbuster for an independently-run video store. Even with Blockbuster effectively extinct after it declared bankruptcy in 2010, the Bend store (and dozens of other franchises) continued using the name.
You can check the video out below.
Blockbuster Video US store locations between 1986 and 2019 from r/Damnthatsinteresting
Many of the other straggling Blockbuster franchises existed because they existed in remote locations like Australia, Alaska, and rural Texas, where many residents did not have access to the high speed internet and unlimited data needed to make streaming video a practical reality. As the internet became more democratized, those location started to fade but Bend -- with a thriving film community and a good deal of local affection for the store -- has remained viable.
Now that it's the last one, Bend even sells stickers, membership cards, hats, t-shirts, sunglasses, and more branded with the Blockbuster logo. After the company's collapse, it was swallowed up by Dish Network, who tried to make it work first as a mail-order competitor to Netflix and later with a set-top box and app. Ultimately Dish folded up stakes, and Blockbuster now exists solely as a trademark to be licensed to the Bend store as well as to clothing and merchandising manufacturers who sell things like t-shirts and board games at Target stores.
A documentary film centered on the Bend store, titled The Last Blockbuster, is set to be released later this summer. Filmmaker Taylor Morden, who directed the comedic Hawkman short linked above, is one of the film's two directors. Morden also recently helmed Project 88, a made-in-social distancing version of Back to the Future Part II where 88 teams took roughly a minute of the film and filmed it independently with what they had at hand.0comments