Brick-and-mortar movie rental stores are a rare find today, but you might soon see the familiar Blockbuster logo in your neighborhood. No, the stores aren’t returning, but Free Blockbuster kiosks are popping up around the U.S.. Free Blockbuster — not associated with the original company — works like a little library: anyone can borrow or donate DVDs, video games, music, VHS tapes, film reels, VCRs and DVD players to a community’s collection.
“Our mission is to combat the myth of scarcity by providing free entertainment to as many people as possible,” the organization says on its website.
Free Blockbuster began in 2018 when a former Blockbuster employee in California who imagined “a way to breathe new life into abandoned L.A. Times newspaper dispensers.” The first box opened in 2019 and included movies like Natural Born Killers, Casino and Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
Free Blockbuster is a small, yet promising reprieve from the slew of streaming services available today. It’s unlikely that Free Blockbuster will dethrone companies like Netflix and Hulu, but there’s something nostalgic about borrowing physical media. It’s even better if it’s free. Since the boxes are created and maintained by community members, you never know what hidden gems you might come across.
Dozens of franchises are already in place and anyone can start a Free Blockbuster stock box, according to the website. The organization suggests finding an abandoned newspaper box or building your own kiosk. You can also buy logo stickers and magnets to decorate your neighborhood’s box, or download a printable logo for free. The supplies page also has premade Free Blockbuster boxes for $349.
Free Blockbuster’s Instagram page has dozens of pictures showing off stock boxes and their contents.
If you open a community Free Blockbuster box, you can let the organization know and they’ll add your location on its map.
Image credit: Free Blockbuster