The corpse of Blockbuster is cold enough now that it truly feels like a relic of some distant era in the past. The waves of nostalgia many feel for it (which is probably just part of missing video stores in general) has fueled everything from old locations being turned into Airbnb rentals, elaborate basement recreations, and, now, the creation of little free library-style “Free Blockbuster” boxes.
A Wall Street Journal article from earlier this week explains the origins of the organization, which works by helping people install community boxes where others can leave or borrow movies. Though Free Blockbuster’s site dates the beginning of “the international movement” to 2016, the article cites 37-year-old Brian Morrison converting a newspaper box into a Free Blockbuster filled with VHS tapes in Los Angeles in 2019 as the origin of the practice.
Morrison “worked at various video stores throughout his teenage years” and decided to start the L.A. Free Blockbuster in an effort “to create community around film watching.” There aren’t rules against leaving discs, but VHS tapes are preferred because the older format is “the more interesting draw for Free Blockbuster users.” That draw is strong enough that there are now 69 boxes (nothing funny there) across the United States, Canada, and Australia.
Predictably, the company that currently owns Blockbuster asked Morrison to change Free Blockbuster’s name last year but after he inquired about “licensing out the name, [he] hasn’t heard back.”
Since the ghost of video stores past doesn’t seem motivated to actually shut the organization down, anyone interested in setting up their own Free Blockbuster can buy supplies like boxes, logo stencils, and stickers from its site. We imagine you could also just paint any old box blue, throw some tapes in it, and save a bit of money instead, though.
[via Boing Boing]
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