As Netflix and streaming movies online came to be increasingly popular, the popularity of actually going to a movie rental store waned. Additionally, more people were consuming more and different media content online, but people still watch movies at home.
For about 3 decades, movie rental stores increased the power of the masses to consume a wider selection of movies for less money by waiting until after the shows had been through the theaters. Now, as most of these stores have closed their chains – with the huge Blockbuster chain being the most famous and impactful closure – it is hard to find and watch niche and obscure movies for cheap.
Sites like Netflix offer a changing mix of what are often the wrong kind of “obscure”, and if they had a movie available, it may not be there the next month when you have time to see it. Redbox generally only carries new movies that are recently out of the theaters or are straight-to-video. You may be able to buy the dvd on Amazon for as low as $5 in some cases, but the same movie would often be a $1 dollar rental, or in some cases 2-for-a-dollar. That solution does not really scale for the consumer, though it may sell more DVD copies. Online rentals are usually $3 or more, which was the kind of price one would expect to pay for a new release at Blockbuster.
In addition to selection, consistency, and price, brick-and-mortar video rental shops like Blockbuster also provided a superior browsing experience, which was often a social activity. Part of a Friday night for young people or families would often include a trip to the movie rental store, where they may see friends or spend up to an hour or more browsing the titles on the shelves.
Too much is already done online, and it is more of a hassle to have to go online. As a related matter, some theaters don’t even put up signs showing what films are currently showing, assuming people will simply look them up online. We don’t want to have to navigate your stupid website on our computers or phones/tablets to see what movies are playing. We want to see the sign as we walk or drive by, and we want to go into the store to browse for older movies – that is part of the fun of it.
YouTube and sites like it have been great, and they tend to cater to a different kind of content, for the most part. Amazon is launching a streaming video distribution service that may fill some of this void, depending on how it develops. However, online streaming has hurt the accessibility and reach for many feature films that are over 6 months old.
Of course, it should be noted that Hollywood is terrible, and the PC/leftist bias/agenda has made most entertainment, news, and educational media nearly unwatchable for the past 20 years or more. It is interesting how that appears to coincide with the rise of decentralized media via the internet… Perhaps it was a conscious decision on Hollywood’s part in reaction to that threat… Yet another reason the older movies that are much harder to find should be sought!
Many treated Blockbuster as if it needed to die off, but its departure is a loss for those of us who have found many years of enjoyment from the brick-and-mortar video rental stores.