Once upon a time in cities across the United States, one of the most popular destinations on a Friday or Saturday night, aside from the multiplex, was the local blockbuster.
Although it has long since been replaced by streaming, the rental channel, which went bankrupt more than a decade ago, once held pride of place on the weekend social calendars of families, couples, teens, gamers, and solo moviegoers as a place to browse the shelves and pick out a VHS or DVD to take home – temporarily.
“I would spend all Friday night at a Blockbuster because I could never decide which movie to get,” Randall Park reminded to The Hollywood Reporter Thursday before heading to the world premiere of his new netflix series blockbuster at the Tudum Theater in Hollywood. “I was one of those guys who would sit there for hours and hours to the point where the employees would ask me, ‘Are you sure you don’t need any help?’ And finally, I would choose the same handful of movies that I had rented over and over again, some that I had seen hundreds of times.
Park wasn’t alone on a walk down memory lane last night. Almost every member of the cast and creative team behind Blockbuster came quickly with a nostalgic anecdote about the time they spent browsing the aisles looking for rentals (or candy). In the series, Park plays opposite Melissa FumeroOlga Merediz, Tyler Alvarez, Madeleine Arthur and JB Smoove in a story centered around the last remaining location as the hardworking manager fights to keep the store open amid competition and complicated feelings.
Blockbuster debuts on Netflix November 3, and here are the rest of those memories.
“My dad would come home early from work and pick me up, my mom and my brother. We could choose three movies at the Blockbuster near us – one was for the whole family, one for my mom and dad to watch together, and one for my brother and me. The choice of family didn’t matter because my brother and I would always fall asleep on the couch. My dad is a lawyer so he would always choose something like The Brief Pelican or some sort of legal movie. My brother and I always walked through every aisle to make sure we had all the information before we inevitably could only agree on a movie like Rock-A-Doodle, a movie about an Elvis-based rooster that plays like a child’s fever dream. It was just a ritual of knowing that as a family we were going to go to Blockbuster, make choices, and head into the weekend feeling like heroes — and getting Milk Duds. — Vanessa Ramos, Creator, Writer, Executive Producer and Showrunner
“We had one in my hometown of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, which is in this cluster of small towns in northeast Jersey. Because my town had the Blockbuster, we went there every Friday night and walked the aisles. I remember arguing with my brother about which movie we were going to rent or arguing with my parents about how many movies I could rent or how many candies I could get. It was such a staple of childhood, adolescence, and adolescence and I feel like now I took it for granted. And it’s also a big part of the show, because it’s that place where people can go and gather and find community. I think we’ve missed that now. —star Melissa Fumero
“I grew up in New York and I remember renting video games and movies, especially going to the Blockbuster in Washington Heights. Feeling the air conditioning blast hit your face as you walked through the doors. Then you see all the tubs of popcorn in the checkout aisles and all the candy, gumball and game machines. Loved it. …And I love the show. It has a lot of heart and it’s hysterical at the same time. — star Tyler Alvarez
“I got hired at Blockbuster in Ottawa, Canada literally two weeks before it closed. They didn’t know it was going to close and so they were still hiring people and I came to get my shirt and they said, ‘Yeah , sorry. You’re out of work. Heartbreaking. I just remember every Friday night right after school, Blockbuster was the place to go. That was the thing. I would go there, I “I’d get my candy, my two movies and I’d go home. And see if the guy I had a crush on was hanging in the next aisle. I liked it. It’s a nostalgia so strong for everyone and [our culture] is having a nostalgia moment right now, so why not do a show on Blockbuster? » — star Stephanie Izsak
“It was such a big part of growing up to go there once a week. We would go to the video store, choose the videos and watch them at home with the family. My parents would let me know which ones I was not yet allowed to see and you would see other people there that you knew doing the same thing. You would choose something and think you were getting the last one available until you opened it and found there were only empty boxes. So when I heard about the show I thought it was hilarious and then I heard it was for Netflix – amazing. Craziest moment was stepping onto set [in Vancouver] for the first time. I conceptually knew it would be a riot and a throwback, but once there I truly felt like I was back in my sixth grade life. — director Katie Locke O’Brien
“I loved going to Blockbuster when I was a kid. It was always a warm, nostalgic feeling. But now I love having the chance to do a TV show about a Blockbuster. (Laughs.) If I could choose either I would choose the show over being able to go back to another store but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss it. —executive producer David Caspe