Saturday, January 31, 2015

Santa Monica's 'Vidiots' Movie Rental Store to Close

I'm surprised it's still open, heh.

At LAT, "Vidiots movie rental store in Santa Monica is closing after 30 years":
The shelves at the Vidiots movie rental store are covered with dozens of messages scribbled by filmmakers on the covers of faded VHS and DVD containers. Notes from "Chinatown" writer Robert Towne, reclusive "Thin Red Line" director Terrence Malick and others praise the Santa Monica store's brainy staff and the mammoth film selection that has made it famous among film buffs worldwide.

One message, from Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone, stands out now: "What would life be like without Vidiots?"

Its patrons and fans will soon find out. Vidiots is closing in April after years of struggling to survive the onslaught of Internet rentals, streaming services and online piracy.

Rentals have dropped 24% in the last six months and are down 60% from the store's peak years in the early 2000s, co-owner Cathy Tauber said.

The store tried being a nonprofit, soliciting donations and hosting in-store events with directors. It even auctioned off a lunch with actress Laura Dern and a pitch meeting with an executive producer of the TV series "Homeland" to raise funds.

Tauber said the store also considered launching an online crowdfunding campaign but thought that it wouldn't be a long-term fix.

"We are just bleeding money. We just can't do that anymore," she said. "We didn't want to do something and end up right back where we were in six months."

Video rental stores have been suffering for years after reaching a peak in the late 1990s and early 2000s as DVDs took off, said Mark Fisher, chief executive of the Entertainment Merchants Assn.

There were about 20,000 locations that got at least 50% of their revenue from renting films in 1999 compared with the 3,900 independent and supermarket outlets that rented discs in the U.S. in 2013, he said. An explosion in movie rental kiosks like Redbox, which has more than 35,000 locations in the U.S., has also hurt stores such as Vidiots.

The stores that survive have found ways to supplement their revenue with other retail sales, Fisher said.

One chain in the Midwest, Family Video, owns and develops the land it is on and has actually expanded locations in recent years by integrating a pizza chain into its stores, according to a report from the Entertainment Merchants Assn.

But independent stores like Vidiots have struggled to find a model that works...

I saw some lady renting videos out of one of the Redbox machines are Ralph's the other day. Seems like so last century, despite the automation.