With just one remaining Blockbuster Video store in the world located in Bend, Oregon, the venerable video rental chain has largely disappeared from sight. Streaming services can queue up thousands of movies, making the ritual of wandering through store aisles virtually obsolete.
For residents in and around Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and other locations, however, grabbing a tangible DVD from a Blockbuster is still an option. Stephanie Farr of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a number of small, newspaper-type kiosks (also called newsracks or boxes) have popped up in areas bearing the familiar Blockbuster logo and sporting several movies that people can “borrow” for free.
The kiosks, which are dubbed Free Blockbuster Video, are the work of Brian Morrison, a Los Angeles resident who noticed the empty newspaper kiosks and decided to repurpose them by branding them with the Blockbuster logo and supplying a small inventory of DVDs or VHS cassettes. Others have followed his lead in Oklahoma, Virginia, and elsewhere, using not only movies but books and even popcorn.
People are encouraged to take an item and leave an item. In Richmond, a kiosk recently sported a library containing VHS copies of 1993’s Demolition Man, 1984’s The Terminator, and a box of Skittles.
“There are a lot of abandoned newspaper boxes around L.A.,” Morrison told the Inquirer. “We’re a city that loves movies, and free movie boxes seemed like a great way to rehabilitate commercial blight.”
Morrison’s site, FreeBlockbuster.org, provides artwork for those looking to repurpose the kiosks, which have often been abandoned by area newspapers. Those that are no longer being stocked with papers may be marked for removal by the city, though that depends on local laws.