Please be kind and rewind to a more innocent time when a family movie night involved a drive to your local video store—most likely a Blockbuster —and lots of walking up and down the aisles to see what was still available. Just don’t get tagged with a late fee.
It was one of those annoying charges, a whopping $40, that Reed Hastings has claimed inspired him to start Netflix in 1997. A few years after founding the company, Mr. Hastings reportedly offered to sell Netflix to Blockbuster, then at its peak with 9,000 U.S. video stores, for $50 million.
Fast forward 21 years and one of the most-watched documentaries last month on Netflix, now valued at $239 billion, was “The Last Blockbuster,” about one lone outpost of the bankrupt chain hanging on for dear life in Bend, Ore. One could view it as the ultimate irony that Netflix is getting even richer at the expense of the company that it helped bankrupt after being rebuffed, but the documentary has given the now-independent store a shot in the arm. The Bend Bulletin reports that business has been booming the past two weeks since the documentary took off on Netflix, with sales of retro Blockbuster merchandise flying off the shelves.
If you’re one of the few people in America without a Netflix account, you can even rent a copy of “The Last Blockbuster” there.
Write to Spencer Jakab at firstname.lastname@example.org