Right next to the Papa Murphy’s

Netflix and the Last Blockbuster. Also: 7 other things worth a click.

I usually write Understandably the night before you read it. Then, I take a quick look in the morning just to make sure we didn’t like, go to war or something overnight—and to be sure that I still agree with whatever I wrote the night before.

Once last week I went to bed thinking I’d check on the winner of the Iowa caucuses in the morning. (I’m still not sure who won.)

Then on Sunday night, I kind of gave up after a long weekend, exhausted. I figured I’d fill in whatever movie won the Academy Award for best picture in the morning.

Big event. It was the first foreign-language film to win the Oscar for Best Picture (along with a bunch of other awards, too).

Since I was doing this in a hurry in the morning, however, I didn’t have a chance to think about who the big loser was as a result.

The answer, it’s pretty clear, is Netflix, which had two films up for best picture, and reportedly spent $70 million—roughly what Disney paid for the rights to Hamilton—on a marketing campaign to attract awards.

Luckily, Blockbuster was there to remind me.

There is in fact a single remaining Blockbuster, although it’s unaffiliated with the Twitter account.

(Apparently @loneblockbuster is a parody, and one that doesn't reply to my emails asking for comment.)

As for the real last store, you can find it at 211 NE Revere Avenue, in Bend, Oregon. Right next to the Papa Murphy’s (no relation).

I ran a search on Google Street View to make sure I wasn't just being pranked. Then, I picked up the phone.

“Ken and Debbie [Tisher, the owners], they had four stores, and I actually opened the fourth store,” Sandi Harding, the general manager of the last surviving location told me, adding that the Tishers don’t really like to give interviews. “Bend has always been a really big movie community.”

I used to be a big movie guy, too—so much so that I dropped everything with my girlfriend almost 20 years ago, packed up our stuff in a used Kia Sportage, and headed to Hollywood to become a screenwriter.

I dabbled around the business and took a couple of classes at the UCLA Extension. Stuff happened: 9/11 for one. Life took a different path.

But the first thing I remember from those classes is that you have to learn all the rules so you know how to break them.

Two decades later, my life is different. Yours probably is, too. Between writing other kinds of things and being the parent to a preschooler, I don’t get to see a lot of movies anymore.

(Of all the nominees for best picture, I’ve only seen one: 1917. I’ll get to Parasite, ASAP. Plus, whenever I have 11 free hours: The Irishman.)

Anyway, I wrote about Blockbuster and Netflix back in October, before all but maybe 200 or so of you folks subscribed, along with the fallacy that suggests the former was killed by the latter.

For one thing, Blockbuster lives!

And for another, it’s a controversial take. I mean, if it hadn’t been Netflix, it would have been something else.

Amazon Prime maybe, or Hulu, or some other startup none of us ever heard of because things didn’t work out that way…

At least, that’s how I see it now.

We’ll see if I agree in the morning.

7 other things worth a click

  1. Well now, this is just pure evil: A rural county in Kansas has found a way to jail people who can’t pay their medical debt. (CBS News & Pro Publica)

  2. Four Chinese military members who will undoubtedly never see the inside of a U.S. courtroom were indicted in the giant hack of Equifax back in 2017. (USDOJ)

  3. The death toll from the coronavirus has now passed 1,000. (The New York Times)

  4. NASA says we’ll land on the moon in 2020. (WCLK)

  5. As for that other NASA rumor, I’ve been making a broom stand on its bristles since I was a kid. (CNN)

  6. Twitter got a big tax break to stay in San Francisco, but now its CEO says its future lies elsewhere. (Buzzfeed News)

  7. How a former FBI hostage negotiator suggests you ask for free travel upgrades. (Me, on Inc.com)

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