When the very last Kinkos shut down, cameras weren’t crowding the store. That’s how watching ‘The Last Blockbuster’ makes us feel.
This brand new documentary goes far beyond giving the audience a taste of nostalgia, echoing the demise of what was once a household name video-rental chain. Ironically enough, the theaters that it was supposed to release to now face their own existential threats.
The new film mainly discusses how newer technologies and the digital world have swallowed existing businesses whole, though also discusses what kinds of impacts they have had on our social interaction.
Zeke Kamm and Taylor Morden, the makers of the film, tell the story in a whimsical manner. A fair amount of the story is told through the very last Blockbuster store, which remains in Bend, Oregon.
Sandi Harding, the store’s manager, can be seen throughout the film speaking about how hard he has fought to keep the business flourishing, even as the forces of the economy work to push him out. This particular Blockbuster’s place in history as a tourist attraction and media novelty are only part of the larger story at play.
The film discusses the rise and fall of Blockbuster. Many of the film’s storytellers include media figures who worked in these company’s stores. Director Kevin Smith, most well known for his role in “Clerks,” was immortalized in the Blockbuster era.
What is truly fascinating about the film is what the audience finds out about the business side of things. Many people presume that Blockbuster died at the hands of Netflix. Of course, the rise of new technology and changing social habits simplify the events all too well.
The downfall of the chain, unfortunately, had a lot to do with misguided decision making, corporate greed, and the financial crisis of 2008, which threw Blockbuster’s liquidity into oblivion at a point when the store was in need of the proper resources to continue evolving.
The early expansion of Blockbuster came about at the expense of mom-and-pop shops, which kind of destroys the nostalgic character of what many believed the store to represent. Comedian Paul Scheer recalls hearing that working at Blockbuster was “the perfect high school job” at the time.
Tom Casey, the former Blockbuster CEO, says that he couldn’t imagine any movie lovers longing for a trip to the video store with all of the entertainment one could possibly want at their fingertips. He also believes that people all too easily ignore how these types of technological innovations have a negative impact on our personal exchanges, costing the livelihoods of those who worked in those types of businesses.
Kevin Smith notes that the world today is a “lousier” one.
Voiceover artist James Arnold Taylor says that he misses Friday-night trips to Blockbuster like crazy.
‘The Last Blockbuster’ is surely worth a watch, as well as a good reminder of how much the world has changed due to technology and media. The beauty of watching it on demand? Well, no late fees, of course.