FOR generations worldwide, popping into a Blockbuster to pick up the latest movie to take home was once a way of life. Now the last Blockbuster on the global block is not simply still standing, but doing better than ever after a new advertising push.

Ah, Blockbuster…

A glimpse of the distinctive signage of "Blockbuster Video" in yellow capitals against a cobalt blue background – just takes you back in time (if you are of a certain vintage that is), to those weekend evenings, browsing the aisles with your head titled to the right to read the VHS – and later DVDs – on offer, before picking up some popcorn and going home to enjoy the satisfying clunk of the tape into the machine.

The home-video provider was a giant of its times, peaking worldwide in the 1990s to 2000s. In the 1970s to 2000s, the VCR was an at-home must have, accompanied by a cupboard full of tapes.

But then…?

…along came technology and the rise of streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ making the pop-in to Blockbuster redundant, replaced by the remote control from the comfort of one’s couch. And so, from a peak of about 9000 locations, the stores began to vanish and Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010.


One outlet is still standing – a family-run Blockbuster in Bend, a small city on the Deschutes River, in Oregon, in the United States. The store was the focus of a 2020 documentary, aptly titled "The Last Blockbuster", which documented the chain's demise and the effort to keep the spirit of the bygone Blockbuster era alive in Bend.

What’s the new “push"?

As American brands were lavishing millions of dollars on adverts to air during the prime Super Bowl slots, the last Blockbuster instead posted a low-budget ad online that went viral, featuring a post-apocalyptic commercial that follows a cockroach crawling through a ravaged town as a voice declares, "When the world ends and the Internet streams no more, we will still be here". The cockroach – called "Steve" – then finds his way into the last Blockbuster that appears to be the only business left in town.


Sales are up 200 per cent since the advert was uploaded on Super Bowl weekend in February, with store manager, Sandi Harding, saying the ad was “just kind of poking fun at the fact that we’ve survived everything else, we’re going to survive the apocalypse as well”. In the age of Netflix and other digital streaming platforms, Harding credits her store’s success to both local support and Bend’s budding tourism industry.

Has it diversified?

As well as physical visitors, the Bend outlet has an online store, with products include branded sunglasses, T-shirts, hats, mugs, posters and hoodies. Ms Harding added that, with the advert, she also wanted to show what small businesses can achieve on smaller budgets.

“We didn't have that $7million budget but wanted to do something fun," she said. “It was such a great experience to film it, to put it out on social media and to see everyone appreciate our hard work.”