Is the Last Blockbuster Making a Horror Movie?
Earlier this week, the Blockbuster Video store in Bend, Oregon posted a teaser image to their Instagram account, revealing that Blockbuster would be making its first commercial in about a decade. It also featured a date -- Super Bowl Sunday, February 12. The store, which is the final Blockbuster still in business, followed up with a short video that teased "something big is coming." Both the image they shared, and the video, featured roaches or roach-like creatures, and the initial image showed the creature, gigantic and perched on top of a Blockbuster store in an otherwise burned-out wasteland.
The joke seemed to be that, like roaches, you just can't get rid of Blockbuster. Even a nuclear bomb would leave nothing but roaches, Twinkies, and Blockbuster Bend behind.
But a pair of follow-up teasers raise a new possibility: could the Bend Blockbuster store be either producing or distributing a movie?
After the first two teasers, Blockbuster has released another image, and another short video. The image features a VHS tape in a Blockbuster rental case, bearing the title Blockbuster: Until the Bitter End. Classified as a horror movie, the movie also has "Breeze Studios" on its spine. That might feel like a clue -- but it's followed up by "A1201," which is an entry-level drawing tablet from Artisul. So it's more likely that Breeze Studios is a digital artist who created the image of the tape on a drawing tablet.
You can see that one below.
The next video they shared featured the return of the roaches -- this time in a short video, showing wear like a well-loved VHS tape. The roach crawls across the screen, with a weedy parking lot in the foreground and piles of trash in the background. The caption says, "Just when you thought we were gone, we're crawling right back."
Naturally, most fans are assuming that this means there will be new Blockbuster stores...but that doesn't really line up with the posts. While the Bend store is the last Blockbuster on Earth, it's also a franchise store. The owners license the Blockbuster name from Dish Network, who owns the Blockbuster brand. The Blockbuster US Twitter page, which seemingly is still owned and operated by Dish, has not posted any of these teasers to their page, despite the fact that the account has had limited updates in recent months.
The idea of Blockbuster backing an indie horror comedy actually seems more likely than the Bend store unilaterally deciding to open up more stores, potentially hurting its crucial relationship with Dish. At a time when video stores around the country are struggling to keep the doors open, simply BEING the last Blockbuster makes the Bend store a tourist attraction, and helps generate revenue year-round. So alienating Dish and running the risk of losing the license is a non-starter. While the brand has been in limbo for a while, Dish clearly wants to keep it. They reportedly turned down an attempt to buy the IP in 2022 by a group that wanted to create Blockbuster NFTs and figure out how to rent movies on the blockchain.
If such a movie was made -- whether produced by or just distributed by Blockbuster Bend -- it would be a great gimmick. When The Last Blockbuster documentary came out, the movie came to DVD and Blu-ray at Blockbuster before it was anywhere else, making it Blockbuster's first rental exclusive since the corporate chain had gone out of business. Getting another "rental exclusive' and allowing a filmmaker to use the store's distinctive trade dress for a release could be a great way to attract attention.
Of course, this could all just be an aggressive advertising campaign. Or some other thing we haven't figured out yet. But until February 12, it's fun to speculate...and keep our eye on the Instagram account for more clues.