Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Prophecy: Video Stores Will Rise From The Grave

Prophecy seems to be in these days, what with the whole rapture thing, so I am here today, my friends, to offer a bold prediction for the future. In a post from last week I more or less conceded that the video store is effectively dead. There are a couple of hold outs, but by and large the great American institution has died out. The video store may be gasping its dying breath, but I tell you my brothers, it will rise again. Like Jason or Michael Myers, just when we think it’s finally stopped twitching, it will return. It will be changed, but it will be alive. ALIVE! ALIIIIIIIIIIVE! Sorry, got carried away.
Come with me as I gaze into my crystal ball and foretell the future. Didn’t know I had one of these, did ya? Well, shut the door, cut the lights, join hands, and concentrate. Ah, I can see it clearly now. Once Ballbuster Video finally admits defeat, and I plunder the rest of their store closing sales, video stores will fall into a period of dormancy. The age of kiosks, subscriptions by mail, and video on demand will have begun. Then, slowly but surely, something strange will happen. People will begin to miss video stores. They will want a particular movie that the “new release” kiosks don’t have, and won’t want to wait for it in the mail. They will try to track down the remaining video stores. Unless they live in a major city, however, they will not find one.
The call will rise up from the fringe elements of movie fans first. There will be the classic cinefile, the Turner Classic Movie watcher type, who wants to see the old movies that the major corporations like Redbox and Netflix don’t value because they aren’t viable to the mainstream. There will be the collectors, who cannot accept the idea of a movie existing without a physical copy. There will be the technophobe, who doesn’t like the idea of having to have streaming technology to watch a flick. There will be the completists, who want to see that obscure horror flick or low budget comedy that never quite made the digital jump. Then there will be those who are just plain nostalgic for the video store experience.
Thanks to this call, video stores will begin to pop up again. These will not be the video stores of old. More likely they will be specialty stores. They may cater to a specific genre or format. They might specialize in rare, hard to find movies. They may carry the low budget indy flicks that wouldn’t get a large release. The best part is that the market won’t be big enough to support a major national chain, so these will be a return to the days of the mom and pop store. Mind you, there will never be one on every corner as there used to be. Hell, they will be few and far between. The point is that they will be there. Like a zombie, they will have died and returned. Is this just wishful thinking? I don’t think so, and I’ll give you two examples to support my prediction. The large chain record store is damn near dead. Digital downloading and a refusal of the industry to change with the times led to its downfall. Sound familiar? What you do see, however, are independent record stores. These stores offer “outdated” formats like vinyl records to those who prefer analog and expose people to product that they would never see in corporate stores. These places may not be everywhere, but look in any major city or town with an arts scene and you’ll find at least a couple.
My other example is the Drive-in Theater. The drive-in’s heyday is 50 years in the past, but there is a resurgence going on. In the late 1950’s, at the height of their popularity, there were over 4,000 drive-ins in the United States. In 2010, there were 432. While this may look like a serious defeat, take into consideration that in 1990 there were less than 380. Every year since 1999 the number of Drive-ins either re-opened or built has grown. Last year it almost tripled from the year before. The Starlight Six here in Atlanta is a prime example of how a drive-in can still make it. We can’t kid ourselves that this form of cinema is viable on a large scale any more, but there is a strong underground movement to bring them back. I believe that just as a generation who grew up on drive-ins, along with a generation who wishes they could have, is fighting to keep them alive; a generation who grew up in the dusty shelves of their neighborhood video store will do the same. Never underestimate the power of nostalgia.
Well, that’s my prediction folks. Video stores are pulling a Frosty, waving goodbye saying “Don’t you cry, I’ll be back again some day.” I think the video store, like the great movie monsters, will never really go away for good. It just has to die for a little while to come back in a new form. The days of the convenience store rental counter may be gone, but the day of the independent “boutique” style store will be at hand. Keep in mind though folks, a glimpse of this future can be had here and now. Independent video stores do still exist. I plan to profile some in the coming months here on the blog, but you can search out these hidden treasure troves of rental goodness yourselves. Support your local video store. Joe Bob Briggs made a career out of saying “The Drive-in will never die.” That statement has proven itself true. I am saying “The Video Store will never die.” Am I a prophet or a crackpot? We’ll just have to wait and see. Just remember to always Be Kind, Rewind.
Only if we let it.


Dr. Jimmy Terror said...

The wide angle shot of all aisles in that video store got me choked up. I was honestly astonished at the reaction. When there is no room in Netflix... VHS will walk the earth.

SonOfCelluloid said...

Dr., that pic is from a store in Atlanta called Movies Worth Seeing. It's still around. Atlanta is lucky enough to have 2 great video stores, that one and Videodrome.

cash said...

I remember a place called Jumbo Video here in Canada opened up and to my astonishment it had a horror dungeon section. All enclosed, hundred upon hundreds of titles with big ass fake tarantulas in webbing all around. I big Freddy statue behind locked glass doors. I stole one of those spiders. Not my finest moment. But regardless! It was always a treat to walk around in there, looking for my next scare that the Hi-Fi VHS recorder would wind up.

SonOfCelluloid said...

Cash, that place sounds KILLER! Glad you found the blog, man. Welcome to my nightmare.

cash said...

Jumbo went under soon after after Cockbuster opened up right next door. I remember being excited when they first opened and then I glanced at their horror section and my horror dick just turtled when I saw they had twenty titles. We went from having everyone Nightmare, Friday, Halloween, Hellraiser, Chainsaw, you name it to maybe Halloween 1 and 4, Nightmare 3 and 5 and a couple of Fridays. Sad day for horror fans. I met my wife at another local video store called Reruns. They're long gone but I still have my membership card for as a memento.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. I hope all your prophecies come true!

Just wanted to let you know that I included a link to this article in the latest "issue" of Spatter Analysis.

Check it out!


Marvin the Macabre said...

We're down to 1 video store here in Helena, MT. I hope your prediction comes to pass, but it probably won't do me much good. This town couldn't support any kind of specialty niche store.

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