Like that one cockroach that keeps coming back no matter how many times you think you’ve killed it, you just can’t keep Blockbuster Video down. That seems to be the message of a pair of cryptic teasers for the video rental store’s first TV ads in a decade. Now, this is a little bit like back in 2020, when the franchise had its first rental exclusive since 2011 (which at the time was the documentary The Last Blockbuster), but it’s still a landmark for the sole remaining Blockbuster store in Bend, Oregon, which has gained notoriety as a result of that documentary.
In a pair of social media teasers, both bearing the date February 12, 2023, cockroaches and Blockbuster are put in the same space — once, with a Blockbuster Video standing alone in a blasted-out landscape with a giant stylized cockroach on top of it, and another featuring an employee typing on Blockbuster’s DOS-based point of sale system while a CG cockroach works its way along the counter.
You can see them below.
It does not appear that this is a global Blockbuster initiative, at least at first glance. The Blockbuster brand is owned by Dish Network, and the official social media accounts for the Blockbuster brand have not shared these teasers. That said, the @Blockbuster Twitter account, which had been silent for years before making a brief re-emergence in 2020 and going dormant again, has been tweeting occasionally and making jokey replies to other brands…so it’s possible that the Bend Blockbuster is benefiting from, or spearheading, a broader PR campaign by Dish that just isn’t clear yet.
Blockbuster was a household name for decades, with thousands of stores nationwide at one point. Now, it’s down to one — after years of several franchise stores hanging on by a thread long after Blockbuster had closed its corporate stores in 2014. The Bend store, the subject of the documentary film The Last Blockbuster, also trades on its status as the last vestige of an iconic American brand by selling branded merchandise for what has effectively become a tourist destination.
The documentary itself, crowdfunded on Kickstarter, debuted at a local drive-in theater during the pandemic, and then became a viral hit when it came to (irony of ironies) Netflix. A VHS copy of the movie is currently available on Lunchmeat VHS, and the Blockbuster Bend website has it available in more contemporary formats.
Last year, Netflix ran Blockbuster, a multi-camera sitcom about a parody version of the world’s last Blockbuster Video, for a single season before cancelling it.