Will movie theaters become the next successful video stores?

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BEND, Oregon – Stepping into the latest blockbuster from Bend, Oregon, one enters an aura of cinematic nostalgia.

The walls are covered in bright sunny blues and yellows with candy and DVD rentals to refresh the memory of what it was like to browse the sea of ​​titles before heading home with a movie and Milk Duds at the hand.

What was a $ 5 billion business with over 9,000 stores worldwide at its peak 17 years ago has been reduced to a single store in central Oregon saved by loyal customer base and lure. tourism. His grave may also be a glimpse into the reach of the film industry outside of streaming.

While the rest of the business is little more than a memory for millennials and folklore for Gen Z, Bend’s last store has capitalized on its identity as an operational relic of a bygone era. The shop features Russell Crowe memorabilia that once stood in many of Alaska’s last stores before they closed in 2018. Items include Robin Hood’s Crowe’s hood, a “Cinderella Man” dress and shorts, and a waistcoat from the French musical film “Les Misérables”.

The store has also created a gift shop section where customers can purchase hoodies, t-shirts and jumpsuits featuring the classic logo and the return motto, “Be Kind, Rewind”.

They even offer face masks, on the mark of a state that just ended its mask tenure two weeks ago more than a month after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) relaxed the guidelines.

As I walked through the last Blockbuster, however, it became clearer why it sank. Almost every movie that I recognized on its shelves produced after 2010 was not watched on DVD or VHS, but online streaming, where Blockbuster as a middleman was eliminated. I couldn’t help but wonder if the same process might play out with theaters due to new streaming releases, which gained momentum during the coronavirus pandemic.

Recent box office blockbusters have shown a silver lining for a hard-hit industry on the rebound as the country reopens. Disney / Marvel’s “Black Widow” grossed more than $ 80 million, a new record for an opening weekend since the start of the pandemic. The film also grossed $ 7.16 million on Monday. Others are also showing box office returns, including “F9”, which grossed $ 70 million in its opening weekend, and “A Quiet Place Part II”, which reached $ 48 million. Memorial Day weekend.

As those numbers hit post-pandemic records, the increase in box office revenue may have been the product of pent-up demand, and the same films are quickly available online. Each title is now offered on streaming services for an additional cost, and WarnerMedia plans to release its 2021 films in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously.

Of course, comparing the demise of Blockbuster to the demise of hand cinema from online streaming, the experience is totally different. Streaming may offer a substitute for the final product, but it will not replace the experience of an auditorium designed for a cinematic experience. Blockbuster Video, on the other hand, was much more of a problem as a mere middleman who would bring its customers home.

The same reason is why musicals are still performed on Broadway. Although recreated in Hollywood, the magic of a live performance cannot be properly captured with a camera lens. Movie theaters may suffer a permanent post-pandemic plunge, but they’re unlikely to disappear altogether.


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