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August 8, 2011

The end of Blockbuster, the end of better times

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Written by: Ty Thompson

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Sometimes you never know what you have until it’s gone.

Like a mom who does your laundry until you move away to college. Or a girlfriend at San Diego State who doesn’t have herpes. Recess, for Pete’s sake.

One day … poof. It all disappears. And you’re left with piles of dirty clothes, some nasty venereal disease with itchy warts and an out-of-shape, fat body that is plagued with greasy pimples.

Now, it’s our home movie rental world that is going kaput.

Blockbusters. Relatively cheap Netflix service that allows both downloading and home delivery. Our old movie world as we know it.

“Gone With the Wind.” “Fargo.” “All Dogs Go To Heaven.”

We’re living in a new virtual domain, where hardcase video rentals seem as difficult to find as kryptonite. But we don’t know where to get any of Superman’s poison because our Internet is down so we can’t stream video, and our next mail-in DVD doesn’t arrive until Thursday.

Oh, why does it still have to be Tuesday? And where the hell is my home copy of “The Man of Steel?”

Mom! Ah, I forgot. She’s gone, too.

In September of last year, video rental super chain Blockbuster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to a July Chicago Tribune report, after once having a peak of more than 3,000 video rental stores, Blockbuster will retain only about 1,700 stores with the direction of its new owner, the Dish Network.

The second most popular satellite provider in the country purchased the former movie mecca in a corporate auction. Soon after, it downsized the rental chain because of competitors such as Netflix..

And for those of you who say it’s a good thing Blockbusters are disappearing faster than your good grades now that you’re in a fraternity, stop drinking the Jungle Juice.

Can it really be a coincidence that Netflix changed its pricing structure only a few months after Blockbuster announced its bankruptcy?

I think not.

As the Huffington Post reported in an article from July, Netflix is no longer offering a $9.99 home delivery and streaming combination plan. Instead, streaming and home delivery will be offered as separate, $7.99 monthly fees. That’s an increase of more than 50 percent for all you non-math majors out there.

That price increase would be like charging $16.00 to go see a movie at a theater. Something like $7.00 for a venti mocha at Starbucks.

Ludicrous. And I’m not talking about the rapper. You should know that. He spells his name differently anyway.

What I want to know is: Where have all the original DVD cases gone?

Still, not all is bad in movie rental world. Even with the Blockbuster cutback, the Los Angeles Times reported this week that for the first time people spent more money renting movies than buying them. The newspaper reported that The Digital Entertainment Group, an industry trade association, released data with results that showed for the first time people spent more than $4.2 billion renting movies and only $4.1 billion buying them.

But, I mean, what did these experts expect? Half the movie sales probably used to come from people buying previously viewed, often scratched DVDs from who else? Blockbuster.

And I know that Blockbuster Express is supposed to be the wave of the future. (It’s basically a blue Redbox if you don’t know.)

But I hate looking into the future. Give me CDs. Give me tapes. Give me vinyl records.

All I know is two Blockbuster stores used to be within one mile of me. Now there’s not a Blockbuster store within 10 miles of my place.

Sure, I could stream movies online. Sure, I could order them from my television provider for five dollars. Sure, I could just rent movies for free at the SDSU library.

But we all know I’m not going to do any of those crazy things.

So I’ve found the solution.

It’s called Blowout Video Sales, and it’s located on Midway Drive between Rosecrans Street and Nimitz Boulevard, less than one mile from my house.

Blowout Video Sales rents individual movies, and they even have monthly unlimited rental plans. Plus, if you refer a friend you each get five free movie rentals.

So, is this whole column a ploy just to get you to go there and say I referred you so I can get free movies?

Yes.

—Ty Thompson is a creative writing graduate student. Reach him at cosythenews@yahoo.com.

—This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.

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