Wednesday, September 29, 2010


When I was young and living in Pittsburgh, there was a store called Entertainment Tonight, and I thought that it was the coolest store on earth. This place had two floors, and on those two floors were, as it said in their sign, 'over ten thousand movies and counting'. They mostly had VHS's, but they were building a respectable DVD collection at the time of their closing. The place was a movie haven; a sanctuary for the film connoisseur- posters from every genre blanketed every wall, John Williams playing on the speakers, and in-depth conversations about the latest releases and how they compared to the film of yesteryear were in the air. It was a place of peace, the place of the date movie, the Halloween movie, the Friday night movie. The second floor was devoted to horror, and it was decorated for Halloween year round. Even if you didn't know what movie to get, you would walk out of that store with exactly what you needed. The best part was my family was friends with the owner, a guy named Mike, and he said to my mom- 'any McDonald that turns 16 has a job at Entertainment Tonight'. I used to go to the store just to hang out and browse the collection. It's the reason I love movies so much- I had a lot of exposure. I looked forward to my 16th birthday, and to the day I could proudly walk up to Mike and say, 'sign me up'. 'Welcome aboard,' he might have said, 'we're glad to have you'. The day I would become a man.
As you can tell, that day never came.
One day, I went to Entertainment Tonight and it was closed. There was a sign taped to the door with a simple message- 'Entertainment Tonight has been closed indefinatly. Thanks for all the years of service'. And underneath, a reply in red ink-
'Down with Blockbuster'.
That day, I swore I would have my vengeance. I looked up to the thundering sky and shouted my pledge- that I would be alive to see the downfall of Blockbuster. My day is come.
'...the Company and its domestic subsidiaries have filed voluntary Chapter 11 petitions with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Blockbuster's non-U.S. operations and its domestic and international franchisees, all of which are legally separate entities, were not included in the filings and are not parties to the Chapter 11 proceedings.' -Official Blockbuster Press Release

Praise be to God [closes eyes and raises arms]. $1 billion in assets- $1.4 billion in debt. I'm all about going to rent a movie, but this got personal once it involved Entertainment Tonight. Blockbuster destroyed local movie rental stores and ended up  monopolizing the whole business of renting movies. 
*and it's total crap, because Blockbuster sucks to begin with. It only had new releases and never seemed to carry the movie you needed. It also tended to employ people who could care less about movies. Local stores like Entertainment Tonight only hired people who can carry an intelligent conversation with someone about movies for more than half a second and knew more about the movies in the store than just where the horror section is.
But a new age has dawned- the age of the instant movie, more precisely- the age of Netflix. Blockbuster attempted to compete by implementing a similar online feature on its website, but it simply could not keep up with Netflix. Blockbuster Online had 2.9 million visitors in July- Netflix had 21.7 million in the same month. Blockbuster plans to reduce its debt to $100 million through a massive reorgaization of its shareholders but it is no use- the sun has set for Blockbuster.
I was pretty indifferent to Netflix when it came out. I'm the guy who wants to save the enviornment take a walk and rent a movie at the store down the block- the whole 'mailing movies right to you' sounded too messy to me. Now I can't help but love it. The Instant Watch feature alone is enough to buy a subscription.
This is a pretty useless post as it doesn't directly apply to film, but when I saw this story I couldn't help but write about it. You don't like it? Well...fine [buries self in sand].

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