Kids of the ’80s and ’90s rejoiced this week as they realized a banger from the past might be creeping back into the zeitgeist: Blockbuster. The outdated but still popular film distributor has a live website — though the company went out of business for most of it in 2014. Some fans believe this is proof that the company is making a comeback.
In a tweet this month, the company joked about the reopening: “New business idea: we will come back as a bank and use VHS and DVDs as currency. Time to visit your mother.”
The tweet was a joke, but three days later, Twitter users noticed that the blockbuster site was up and running again. The message on the homepage: “We are working on rewinding your film.”
After some people tweeted that they noticed the site was up, more nostalgic Blockbuster fans shared their theories about the site and their memories of the movie and video game selection with their family and friends.
“Some of my favorite childhood memories were going to Blockbuster on a Friday night.” one person tweeted.
“The Blockbuster website is alive? If they make a comeback in any way, I will cry.” another tweeted.
A person said a blockbuster comeback would be “epic.” “The return of the blockbuster chain would bring back memories of the past. Friday night after middle school my cousins and I ran to the store, rented movies and video games from SEGA and this would be our weekend party!!” they tweeted.
While blockbusters were a staple for many families in the ’80s and ’90s, on-demand movies grew in popularity because they could be rented at the touch of a button. Brick-and-mortar film retailers were struggling, and in 2014 Blockbuster announced the closure of its nearly 300 remaining US stores
The company had tried to adapt to the changed film distribution landscape. Like Netflix in its early days, Blockbuster mailed rental DVDs to homes, eliminating the need to drive to the store. But Netflix turned to streaming and Blockbuster decided against it, a business decision that ultimately led to the company’s demise.
According to Variety, the Blockbuster brand was sold to satellite television company DISH in 2011 for $320 million. They owned the licensing rights and created Blockbuster On Demand, a library of thousands of movies available to DISH customers and as a standalone app. The app is no longer available.
In 2021, a Blockbuster Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) was formed with the goal of acquiring Blockbuster from DISH. A DAO is a company without a central governing body, as opposed to a company with executives or board members at the top. Usually they use cryptocurrencies in transactions.
The blockbuster DAO, later renamed Rewind, had a goal of raising $5 million to buy the brand from DISH.
“The Blockbuster brand is not just nostalgic, it is a historical milestone in the history of film,” the DAO’s account tweeted in December 2021. “Despite its 1/1 brand awareness, the company was bred by terrible leadership and an inability to… change, destroy.” and make dynamic business decisions.”
The DAO said there are several options for the company after the purchase, including creating an NFT presence, a streaming platform, or distributing films to theaters.
Rewind, which has evolved into a video sharing platform for YouTubers, said it had 13 meetings with DISH about the acquisition. “Unfortunately, the idea of fully acquiring the Blockbuster brand was immediately scrapped. Dish had spent $320 million on the brand in 2011 and believed it was still worth more than a community like ours could muster,” the DAO reads a release on its website.
CBS News has contacted Rewind and DISH for comment and is awaiting a response.
It’s unclear when the Blockbuster website was activated or updated, and Blockbuster no longer has an active PR email address, but CBS News has reached out to the last remaining Blockbuster site in Bend, Oregon, to help to get any insights.
The latest blockbuster was the focus of a 2020 documentary that detailed the company’s demise and the survival of the Bend site. The store is more of an attraction as you make money selling goods rather than renting movies.