When you visit Blockbuster’s website, something peculiar pops up. Instead of receiving an error message informing you that the website no longer exists, you receive the following message: “We are working on rewinding your movie.”
Is Blockbuster coming back?
Right now we don’t know. The video rental store recently tweeted, “New business idea: We’re going to come back as a bank and use VHS and DVDs as currency. Time to go visit your mom,” CBS News reported.
At the time, it seemed like a joke. But then people noticed something peculiar: The once dormant website flickered back to life.
New business idea: We're going to come back as a bank and use VHS and DVDs as currency. Time to go visit your mom.— Blockbuster (@blockbuster) March 15, 2023
The death of Blockbuster
At one point, Blockbuster seemed like a permanent fixture in family entertainment. Its heyday was in the 1990s and early 2000s, when the video rental store boasted thousands of locations. But when Netflix and other streaming services emerged, Blockbuster began to fade into the background, The Guardian reported.
How could a video rental store compete with a streaming service where customers didn’t have to leave their homes to watch movies that they used to have to go out and rent or buy? Even though Blockbuster had the opportunity to purchase Netflix when it was just starting out, per The Guardian, the company declined. And now, in 2023, there’s just one operational Blockbuster left in Bend, Oregon.
Is Blockbuster coming back?
The ghost of a website returning catalyzed rumors online that the video rental store might be planning a comeback. CBS News reached out to Rewind, DISH and the last remaining Blockbuster for comment but haven’t heard back yet.
People have been pulled to the nostalgia of Blockbuster over the last few years. Sure, staying at home and being able to screen cast or use Apple TV to watch your favorite movie on your streaming service of choice is convenient. But it’s not the same as walking into a Blockbuster on a Friday or Saturday night and surveying all the different options of movies that you could rent, then going home and watching it on your DVD or VHS player.
Even though streaming services provide more convenience and, in some ways, more options, one of the challenges customers now face is determining how many streaming services they should subscribe to — and which services best cater to their interests. Say you’re a Disney fan and want to watch those classic movies, but you’re also wanting to watch reruns of “The Office” and the new series “Wednesday.” That would require you to have Disney+, Peacock and Netflix.
The advantage of Blockbuster is that with DVDs and VHS tapes, you could pick up your favorite Disney classic, a new movie and your favorite sitcom at the same time.
If Blockbuster does indeed return, it’s unclear how the brick and mortar store model would change in order to compete successfully with streaming services. Will we all be dusting off our DVD players to usher in a new age of Blockbuster?
Here’s something else to consider: Right now, we’re in something of a ’90s revival. American Girl stores started selling a new historical doll from the ’90s, and ’90s fashion trends are resurfacing.
Maybe Blockbuster will try to make a play off of that nostalgia.