business news in context, analysis with attitude

Good piece in the Wall Street Journal noting that the Blockbuster bankruptcy means more than just the slow death of a company that just a few years ago seemed ubiquitous; it also confirms that “technology is killing the video-rental store - and a piece of American culture with it,” the many independent, mom-and-pop video rental stores that have been in business for the past few decades.

Here’s how the Journal describes this dying industry:

“Since the first video-rental shops emerged in the late 1970s, they have served as shrines to films and created new social spaces for neighborhoods, often reflecting their personalities. They drew cinephiles, rebellious teens seeking movies of which their parents might not approve, and budding young actors and directors who canonized them in their work.

“The shops made accessible high quality films, or quirky or foreign ones, that weren't likely to be broadcast on TV—and on customers' own schedules. Brought down off the silver screen, movies were artifacts people could swap, study and recommend. A generation of movie buffs and cultural critics collected copies of films the same way art and books were amassed ... Quentin Tarantino spent several years working at a shop called Video Archives in Hermosa Beach, Calif., while writing his first screenplays.

"’I got to be little Mr. Critic at the store, putting films in peoples hands, and arguing my points about why this movie was good and this movie was bad,’ the director told Charlie Rose in a 1994 interview.”
KC's View:
There’s no question that the emergence of Netflix and Redbox and the downloading of films from the internet has caused a dramatic change in how people watch, rent, and buy movies ... a change that some saw coming and some did not.

But the world changes. From my perspective, what is important is that people to continue to watch movies, and that interesting, challenging movies continue to be made. It’s important that we never forget the heritage of great movies made in the past. (You can tell I was a film major at Loyola Marymount University.)

It is less important how we acquire these films. Just like what seems to me to be really important is that people continue to read, and less important whether people get physical books from libraries or bookstores, or download them onto iPads and Kindles or whatever.