Blockbuster team Chris and Wendy are the last in the world to exit the stage of movie rentals with the once iconic brand

The last in the world bows out

by Andy Bryenton

The last Blockbuster on earth is closing its doors here in Dargaville, as owners, Chris and Wendy Cocurullo prepare to ‘garage sale’ decades of movie rental memories by the end of January.

At one time there were 18,000 Blockbuster movie rental stores. At their peak in 2004, they were a familiar sight in every major city on Earth. By 2010, the company had closed down in the USA, with only a few hold-outs in places like Alaska remaining. Last year the Alaskan stores and one in rural Australia shut down, leaving only Dargaville’s branch and a store in Bend, Oregon, which operates more as a pop culture museum.

The proprietors of Dargaville’s store believe that it’s changing times and technology, which have rendered the concept of movie rental a thing of the past. Netflix, Amazon Prime and on-demand streaming services through smart TVs and tablets have seen the way people access films move on.

“It’s the end of an era,” admits Wendy, as the shop’s fittings are packed into boxes, and decorations from hundreds of classic films are taken down.

“It was a VHS rental store before it was DVDs, and Chris used to work here in those times. We were, to the best of our knowledge, the last Blockbuster still operating as a true movie rental store, anywhere on earth.”