What the last Blockbuster has that Netflix doesn’t


– The way we watch and
discover movies has changed. We have Netflix, Hulu and just about everything right at our fingertips. But like everything online,
there’s an algorithm telling us what it
thinks we want to watch. – You know our personalization learns from what you watch, how long you watch it, how quickly do you go to the next episode. – And while that can be
helpful, it also us restricts to watching the same kinds of movies. But there was a time before the algorithm, when your movie selection
was based on spontaneity, and word of mouth. And for most of us that experience came from Blockbusters. – Nobody has the movie I want. – In 1994, Viacom acquired Blockbuster for 8.4 billion dollars. And by 2004, Blockbuster had over 9,000
stores across the world. Now in the U.S., there’s only one. We went to Bend, Oregon
to see what we lost when algorithms replaced human curation. And how a small town
became home to the last Blockbuster in America. (music) – So we are in Bend, Oregon. We’re going to a big box retailer to watch the general manager
hand-pick DVDs for the store, so that people can rent
them later from Blockbuster. She has to go to the store because Blockbuster corporate
doesn’t exist any more. There’s nobody sending them DVDs. – So full disclosure, we
called the big box store before shooting here to
get a location release. But out of concern for the
Blockbuster manager, Sandy, the store didn’t want to
sign, because technically, what she’s doing here goes
against the retailer’s policy. – Up, is probably the most popular one that I bought in here. We sell that one a lot, and rent it a ton. Wolf of Wallstreet, very popular. Leonardo DiCaprio, yes, Lord of the Rings, – Always – We sell this one constantly
and rent it out all the time. – Sandy Harding is the general
manager of Blockbusters, where she’s been working
for the last ten years. She knows which movies her customer want, and she can even identify a lot of them just by their voice when
they call the store. She uses a service in
Portland that sends them about 80 percent of their videos. And she shop for the rest
every Tuesday morning. – You get the new ones
online, it’s the classic stuff that you can’t always find,
so they come in to see us because they know they can get it. – Sandy’s basically
doing what Netflix does, knowing what her customers want to rent and serving that to more people. I mean, that’s business. But
in the case of this store, there’s a specific community in mind, which makes the whole thing more personal. – Oh shit, there it is. (laughter) I never thought
I’d see that sign again. (music) It smells the same. it absolutely smells the same. Oh wow, I haven’t seen
any of these things, any of these cases, or any
of these movies before. It’s been so long since I’ve
been in a DVD rental place like this is. There’s just so much stuff. – There’s a place for both. There’s a place for Netflix
and hulu and Amazon. And there’s a place for this. And I think that we finally found that comfortable spot, and
I think that people are starting to realize that coming
in here, picking up a movie, walking around, talking about
movies. Is something that people miss. – It’s hard to find
spaces where the point is discovering things, or the
point is being around people who like the same things as you. The employees of this
store care about movies, and more importantly, they
care about sharing them with people. I mean, just
look at this section of employee picks. It’s updated regularly. – Promethius is a really cool
sci-fi movie. It’s actually based on the Alien series. Another one, Requium for a Dream is great. – The employee showing me around the store is Sandy’s son, Ryan. – This is actually, completely
edited on a software that is totally free for anybody,
which is Divinci Resolve. – As we move towards these digital spaces, we lose the expertise of people like Ryan. You can walk down the isle and
have a movie jump out at you. Or, you can ask someone
for a recommendation. – You definitely walk in and
you will be looking along the shelf, and the next thing
you know you see something that might catch your eye. – It’s not something that’s
just right on the screen. My kids can wander around
and a lot of times, their picking out movies that wouldn’t
be as popular as others. – Some times I come in and
I just want feel like seeing a movie and I don’t know
what it’s going to be. And sometimes I walk out of here with, like five totally different
genres. I was surprised to learn that we were the last one. – So while they are the last
Blockbuster in the U.S., there was a time when they were
an independent video store, before they were consumed
by the corporate chain. – We converted in 2000 to Blockbuster. They made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. We were in here being Pacific
Video, being very happy, and they came to town and
said, “Well, we need more Blockbusters in this town, and
we’d like you to convert, and if you don’t, we’re
gonna put a couple more Blockbusters in.” So… – Ken Tischer is the owner of
this store, and has been since it was Pacific Video back in the ’90s. – Bend is a great movie
town, always has been. People were amazed when
we had four stores. The population was only about 50-55,000. And they said there was no way that town can support that many
stores, and yet it did. (music) – Bend is located three-hours
outside of Portland. And it’s small, it
seems like everything is five-minutes away. The people here really care about their art. Downtown you’ll find literally dozens of shops touting
locally made products. There’s a yearly film festival. And outside of that, there are three theaters, two of which are independent, that show features and shorts year-round. It’s a town that takes pride in it’s craft and it’s community. – It’s a real interesting
town, in that it’s relatively small, but
people have such a love for the art form that all of
us, including Bend Film, are able to do pretty well. – That’s Todd Looby, who
runs Bend’s film festival. It’s celebrating it’s 15th
anniversary this October. – I think the curation
aspect is super important, like, you know, in a lot
of Indie movies that say, came out in the ’90s, there’ll
be the video store guy, like the Kevin Smith surrogate,
who is the guy at the video store who’s telling
people what movies to get. The curating owns sections
of the movies they love and want people to watch.
So people are gravitating towards that experience.
Some kind of curations, someone who they trust
to tell them what to see. – People here really value
these face-to-face interactions. It’s the same with Sandy, the employees of the big box
retailers around town know her. And so they let her buy
DVDs from the store, even though they’re
really not supposed to. It’s easy to see how this town is home to the last Blockbuster. (music) But most of us don’t live in Bend. And while there are local video
stores across the country, we need new ways to discover movies that are more accessible. Because most of us don’t live
near video stores either. But there are some companies thinking about that kind of accessibility. And they even hand-pick
videos you can watch online. – Where we come from is a
place of knowledge and passion, choosing films that we think are interesting and vital and important. Versus data that makes assumptions about well this is popular,
so this should be popular too. You like this, so maybe you’ll like that. To us that has no human quality at all. – Daniel Kazman is the
director of content at Mubi a video streaming service
that uses human curation to select it’s movie catalog. – What we may see now, is
just an increasing amount of channels. So Disney
is about to launch their streaming service. Netflix
is providing their original content, Hulu has their original content. But I think more valuable
are the sort of channel idea, that it’s more specialized.
When you look at something like Shudder, which is a
channel specifically dedicated to horror films, it’s much
more focused in terms of the programming that it offers.
Curation, I feel like always needs to exist,
hand-in-hand with a venue. Whether you’re talking about
a physical venue like a theater cinematek, or an online venue, like Mubi, Hulu or Netflix. (music) – Going forward, I think that technology can leave us somewhere in the middle. Somewhere between Netflix
and the video store. But right now, streaming
services seem to be more focused on improving their algorithms
than diversifying your movie pallet. The internet
should have made discovery easier, and maybe it did
early on. But over time the open web has become much more closed, into Apps and feeds.
Admittedly this Blockbuster and a lot of other video
stores, still partly exist because of nostalgia.
And sure, that will bring Instagrammers, and news
teams to cover them as an oddity, but that nostalgia
isn’t what’s going to keep this store in business.
It’s the loyal customer base that the employees
here have cultivated over the years. This Blockbuster
is a product and a part of the community here in Bend. And while we currently live in
a world driven by algorithms, maybe we can find a way
to bring a little of that on to the web. – Hey, thank’s for watching,
if you like this video, please subscribe to The Verge on YouTube. And if you like discovering
new video games, check out our friends
at Polygon, they have an excellent YouTube channel.

100 thoughts on “What the last Blockbuster has that Netflix doesn’t

  1. that's funny that's like saying what Vrmovies hologramtech, instantpopupadfreemovies has that Netflix and hulu wont.

  2. Let me see: Soul, atmosphere, treasure hunting (digging through odd covers) adventure (car drive to the store with friends, shopping candy somewhere else on the way) social experience ("Hey, you guys are here too? What movie are you renting? THAT one?! Oh yea, it's great it'll give you nightmares!"

  3. How many times me and my wife browse Netflix or Amazon for a movie and we cannot find what we want ? Tons of series sure, and they are great but the video store should always have its place. The fact is streaming do not hold everything for everyone but videostores have the latest movies and the old ones too. I guess a video store today would have to be online too in some form to offer a different perspective. Probably Apple will address those isssues with their streaming service, if not someone else will one day. A proper online video store is what’s needed, offering the latest movies on a subscription. Otherwise we are back to spend the fortune we used to in the video rental days.

  4. Could you imagine being on a date and telling her that you work at Blockbuster, she’d be like, “Really?”

  5. Well they had the opportunity to buy out Netflix about 10 or 15 years ago and they didn't. So they ruined it for themselves….

  6. There is something to be said about the physical experience of walking aisles vs. scrolling through digital images. <3 Video Stores.

  7. i live only a couple minutes away from bend oregon! it’s so cool to see so many people come in and see!!

  8. I remember one german video rental place who sorted the movies by actors, that was pretty interesting to browse

  9. I'm sooo happy to see a Blockbuster movie store around .. i love the movie stores, you walk in pick out your fun Horror,Comedy your rare finds for the night , go home and entertain yourself.. i love the looking around the isles and the social aspect of these rental movie houses .. a lot of fun…. so miss them. Here in Canada we don't haven't hem anymore, Everything has become internet and what i call antisocial media ,Netflix or some online thing, these video places bring back the social aspects of things with real people real faces…. i grew up with the brick and mortar video stores and miss them dearly, Thank you so much for this video . 🙂
    Keep these places alive People !!!!

  10. I pray that blockbuster is still open and stays. Definitely need to visit one day. Netflix is horrible worst movies. Waste of money i rather go to my local movie

  11. Blockbuster: Jaws, Alien, Nova, Spiderman, Superman, Spaceballs, Star Wars.

    Hulu: Spogeboob
    Netflix: Leo the Lion
    Xfinity: DiSnEy

  12. The experience of checking all the shelves, grabbing snacks and human Interaction. The availability of old movies or classics to rent and watch minutes later at Home. I have to wait days for a disc from Netflix and not all the good movies are available for streaming.

  13. Ok this looks bigger and more dedicated staff than what the average blockbuster had back in the day.
    Basically it's an independent video store with a corporate logo.

  14. I met my wife at a blockbuster…2/1/01…. And ironically we had are first child because of "Netflix and chill"….circle of life..

  15. Blockbuster,family video, hollywood all places I used to go for movies and games back in the 2000s when was a kid

  16. all streaming company included youtube is segregating our search they are creating Gekko-chambers. They need to desegregate their recommodations big league.

  17. youtube and netflix recommendation algoritme should desegregated meaning they should also recommend movies and music divergent to our original search maybe a 80/20 splitt. How can people discover something new when they every search produce similar types of content!

  18. Absolutely agree… I miss Blockbuster; I miss looking at videos, picking them up and reading them – deciding what I want to watch – having it in my hand. Trust me, you can learn a lot more about a movie from a DVD package than you will EVER learn from a RedBox or Netflix movie review or description.

  19. Blockbuster's "human curation" was still based on previous sales and popular films, not so different than Netflix's Algorithm. Also, people are still talking about movies and recommend good ones to their friends. Now more people can afford watching films, even in poorer places and countries, so the conversation probably grew since the days of video stores.

  20. Blockbuster got killed by wankers Netflix I enjoyed blockbuster ours closed down two years ago sad day it was most my family and friends support Netflix I say F**k Netflix

  21. Não deixa eu falar com a GLOBO Aos Cuidados:bom dia rio GLOBO

    Planejamento junto?

    Segue objetivo,design,estilizar e alcançar objetivo junto.

    Eu carrego no ombro

    Muita Vontade.

    Proximo passo após falar com a GLOBO e não deixa eu falar com a GLOBO

    Transformação de profissão nódulos baixar pressão à profissão nutrição.

    Reciclagem,alcançar objetivo especialização e mba.

    Junção com transformers GLOBOFILMES com apoio GLOBO

    Design da reciclagem.Sem reciclagem não tem paixão à nutrição junto à comunicação

    Não deixa eu falar com a GLOBO conheça

    Não deixa eu falar com a GLOBO conheça

    Não deixa eu falar com a GLOBO não deixa eu viver na paz,não deixa eu viver na calma,não me dá calma.

    falar com a GLOBO e não deixa eu falar com a GLOBO

    Meu pedido é reciclagem,tenho paixão à nutrição e à comunicação,paixão à comunicação.

    Não deixa eu falar idéias já GLOBO Não deixa eu seguir o falar com a GLOBO

    Corporativa ti fala doar equipamento falar com a GLOBO e não deixa eu falar com a corporativa ti,não deixa doar.

    Certidão de objeto e pé efetuada com sucesso.

    Falar com a GLOBO apoio GLOBO estadia corporativa e alcançar o falar com a GLOBO

    não deixa eu falar com a GLOBO não deixa falar apoio GLOBO não deixa eu falar com a GLOBO não deixa eu falar aos Cuidados GLOBO

  22. I miss these old video stores. Why do we throw out things just because something better is made? Yes we should advance technology but not everything can be replaced.

  23. Oh Mann the nostalgia watching this video. I miss being a kid. Renting a movie every weekend with my parents and siblings. Awesome!

  24. Ahhhh the nostalgia of going to blockbuster on a summer Friday night and rent my favorite ps2 games and movies. Where has time gone?

  25. I actually miss working there. My top recommendations are Fight Club, Azumi, and the Boondock Saints. With Lucky Number Sleven as a chaser.

  26. I’m live here in bend but sadly moving to Redmond because bend is getting expensive but atleast I’m still near the town that I’ve lived 13 years of my life in

  27. I always wanted to work at a blockbuster store for summer but there is only one might just start my own

  28. Blockbuster was my favorite thing to do when it comes to renting VHS and video games. And now everything is digital and I found it very lazy.

  29. I worked at Blockbuster here in Philly from 2001 to 2004, and when he said 'it still smells the same,' my mind went right back to all those years ago. I actually never thought I'd say this, but I miss it. Maybe it's the nostalgia that I miss. I sure don't miss the mediocre pay, but I miss my team and my regular customers. We knew what movies they liked. I miss walking down the aisles with a customer to help them find a good movie. Man…

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