Watch the rise and fall of Blockbuster Video in under four minutes

The first Blockbuster Video location was opened in 1985, in Dallas, Texas, by Sandy and David Cook. David pulled together the scratch for the startup by selling off the assets of one of the subsidiaries of an oil services business that he owned. Once the Cooks saw the insane amount of cash their first store was bringing in, they said buh-bye to the oil industry entirely in order to focus on Please be Kind, Rewind stickers, full-time. Game rentals became a thing for them, in 1987 (after taking Nintendo to court to secure the privilege of being able to rent out their hardware and games). by 2004, there were 9,094 Blockbuster locations, worldwide. Thanks to cable networks offering video-on-demand and streaming and rental services like Netflix and the Apple iTunes Store drinking their milkshake, the number of Blockbuster locations began to decrease. By 2014, the last 300 corporate stores, owned by Blockbuster, had shut down. A few franchisees held out—for a while.

Today, there's only one Blockbuster Video left on the whole damn planet, located in Bend, Oregon. While this video only details Blockbuster's locations within the continental United States, its a hell of a thing to see just how many there were until streaming video took them (almost) all down.

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A visit to the world's oldest surviving video rental store

Twentieth Century Flicks is the world's oldest surviving video rental store. The offer 20,000 films (yes, many on VHS too) and even have screening rooms. This shop embodies much of what I miss about how I experienced media growing up before the dark times... Before the modern Web.

Be kind, rewind.

Directed by Arthur Cauty.

Previously on Boing Boing:

• "Only one Blockbuster Video Store left standing"

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Sculptures made of CD shards

Sean Avery carefully constructs flora and fauna from old compact discs and DVDs, the razor-sharp delights are especially beautiful outdoors, where the light glints off each shard. Read the rest

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: the complete series

I never get tired of watching this brilliant 1990s take on the Wild Wild West, starring the always fantastic Bruce Campbell. Read the rest

Baa Baa Black Sheep (Black Sheep Squadron) vol. 1

"We are poor little lambs, who have lost our way. Baa. Baa. Baa." I loved this show so much as a kid, the opening credits give me chills. Read the rest

Laurel and Hardy and horror-Mickey-fursuit perform "Babes in Toyland"

The 1934 adaptation of Babes in Toyland with Laurel and Hardy featured a horrific, off-model, unauthorized Mickey fursuit that had to be seen to be believed. It's still in copyright, but you can get a cheap DVD on Amazon, under the alternate title "March of the Wooden Soldiers."

March of the Wooden Soldiers Read the rest

Sony pirates itself with "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" disc

The official design for the disc-art on the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo DVD makes the disc appear to be a pirate copy, designed to mimic a blank, home-burned disc with the movie's title handwritten in black marker on it.

Dragon Tattoo Has Unique DVD Design

(via Hack the Planet) Read the rest

Talking Heads Chronology: live performances 1976-1983

Talking Heads Chronology is a $21 DVD that chronicles footage of the band from every stage of its life to 1983, including rare footage of their performances at CBGBs in the early days of their act. Talking Heads is, of course, the band that put out the greatest concert movie of all time, along with one of the great concert albums of the 20th century, which is to say, they are the kind of band that you want to see concert footage from.

David Byrne writes,

This was very much a live band—at least until the late 80s. The initial recordings emerged out of what we played live, what worked in that context and how we refined our skills playing together. For a lot of musicians in the digital era this is not always the case. These days, the record often comes first and then how it is staged comes later. The Lester Bangs essay is also very much part of this time. Other than some very specific references, it holds up amazingly well as a passionate and idiosyncratic piece of writing. There’s a reason a lot of writers continue to hold him up as a role model (though I hope they bypass some of the substance abuse). Though his piece is in the form of a record review, it is in truth a beautiful existential rant—and I am proud to be in some way associated with it. Come to think of it, maybe many of these songs are partly something else in disguise as well?

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Penn & Teller's Magic and Mystery Tour: exploring magic's roots in China, India and Egypt

We just watched Penn & Teller's Magic and Mystery Tour, their 2003 documentary on traditional magic in China, India and Egypt, and really enjoyed it. Penn and Teller resolve to track down performers who are still doing the street magic that inspired western magicians in years gone by -- the Indian Rope Trick, the Egyptian Gali Gali men with their cups and balls, and Chinese classics like the mask trick and the glass bowls trick.

Each segment is very self-contained, and full of the brash Penn humor and Harpo Marx Teller mischief that they're known for. There's a bit of general history and cultural overview in each nation, but the emphasis is always on magic and its odd history in each nation -- Mao's purge of street magicians, the hieroglyphs that (may) depict an ancient cup-and-balls routine, the colonial soldier who faked evidence of the Indian rope trick.

But where the video shines is in the intimate views of the lives of the magicians and their families in the countries that P&T visit -- a village filled with traditional magicians in China, a slum known for magicians in Calcutta, the descendant of Luxor Gali-Gali, an Egyptian magician who played the Ed Sullivan show and attained fame in Vegas.

The documentary left me with a sense of the overall oddity of devoting your life to magic, and the strange ways that magicians all over the world, and all through time, are bound together by this craft of trickery and illusion. Teller has a moment where he addresses the camera at some length on the nature of the linking rings and the cultural differences in the way that it's transformed that is one of the most interesting bits of video I've ever seen. Read the rest

Infringing anime downloads increase DVD sales

A thoroughgoing report from the Japanese Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry on the effect of piracy on anime DVD sales concludes that while some channels (rentals) are harmed by infringing downloads, others (sales) are helped. Which is to say: copyright infringement doesn't mean your business is doomed, it just means a small shift in emphasis and strategy:

"Estimated equations of 105 anime episodes show that (1) YouTube viewing does not negatively affect DVD rentals, and it appears to help raise DVD sales; and (2) although Winny file sharing negatively affects DVD rentals, it does not affect DVD sales," the researchers conclude.

"YouTube's effect of boosting DVD sales can be seen after the TV's broadcasting of the series has concluded, which suggests that not just a few people learned about the program via a YouTube viewing. In other words YouTube can be interpreted as a promotion tool for DVD sales," it adds.

The results of the Japanese research confirm that piracy does not always have to be associated with a decrease in sales. Similar effects have been observed for music piracy and book piracy as well.

Internet Piracy Boosts Anime Sales, Study Concludes

(Image: DVD collection, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from fabokun's photostream)

  Author: 4chan bootlegging led to big sales increase - Boing Boing Hard data on ebook piracy versus sales -- slides from O'Reilly ... More hard data on the impact of free/pirated downloads on book ... Business Software Alliance deploys yet another BS study to "prove ... Read the rest

IT Crowd Box Set has no region, can be viewed anywhere

(Click above to enbiggen)

Here's a sneaky fact that's fun to know: the UK-only special edition boxed set of the IT Crowd (which comes complete with its own awesome tabletop RPG) is set to Region Zero, which means that it will play on any DVD player, even those outside the UK. What's more, Amazon UK will ship it to anywhere in the world -- so Americans and other exotic foreign types can get a usable copy no matter where in the world you reside. (The IT Crowd DVD extras are wicked fun -- things like leet subtitles and 8-bit RPG extras!)

The IT Crowd - Series 1-4 Special Edition Box Set [DVD]

(Thanks, anonymous source!)

IT Crowd DVD boxed set, complete with fantasy RPG! IT Crowd third season DVD up for pre-order IT Crowd DVD has subtitles in leet IT Crowd Season 2, Episode 4 -- and DVD! Read the rest

IT Crowd DVD boxed set, complete with fantasy RPG!

(Click above to enbiggen)

SFBriarpatch sez, "Just out: The special edition 4-DVD box set of 'The IT Crowd' series 1-4 includes a two-sided board game. On one side, the board is laid out like the IT department office at Reynholm Industries. The other side transforms the layout of the IT department office into a fantasy world where Moss and Roy's office becomes the 'Great Hall of Heroes,' and Jen's office becomes the 'Lair of Aunt Irma.' Amazon's photos of the board game are huge and extremely detailed."

The IT Crowd - Series 1-4 Special Edition Box Set [DVD]

(Thanks, SFBriarPatch, via Submitterator!)

IT Crowd third season DVD up for pre-order IT Crowd Season 2 DVD for sale in the US IT Crowd DVD has subtitles in leet IT Crowd season premiere sneak peek Vintage PCs on the set of The IT Crowd, season 4 Cut scenes from The IT Crowd IT Crowd Season Two - the sexy finale Read the rest

Infographic: buying DVDs vs pirating them

This pithy and funny chart does a superb job of explaining how the insertion of a lot of "business model" (FBI warnings, unskippable trailers, THX vanity sequences) makes buying a DVD a lot worse than pirating the same disc online. I rip all my kid's DVDs (not least because she has a tendency to scratch them to hell), and the difference between firing up a movie on a laptop and it just starting versus trying to explain to a toddler why Daddy has to spend five minutes pressing next-next-next menu-menu-menu is enormous. I think it all comes down to the stuff in the DVD-CCA spec that allows DVD creators to flag sequences as unskippable: that's such an attractive nuisance, it's bound to attract every hard-sell marketer and power-tripping fool in any media company, who will eventually colonize it with so much crapola that it comes just short of destroying the possibility that anyone will voluntarily pay for the product. (Be sure to click below for the whole thing)

If you are a pirate, this is what you get

(via Making Light)

Previously: HOWTO defeat Apple's anti-DVD-screenshot DRM - Boing Boing CinemaNow's Burn-to-DVD DRM is irresponsibly defective - Boing Boing New Sony DVD DRM breaks Sony DVD players - Boing Boing Boing Boing: Breaking DVD DRM is legal in Finland BluRay's BD+ DRM broken - Boing Boing Read the rest

Anvil! the Story of Anvil, a real-world Spinal Tap documentary that will have you laughing, crying and rocking out

The 2007 documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil is one of the most wonderful movies I've seen in years. It tells the true story of heavy-metal semi-legends Anvil, a band formed by two Jewish kids from Toronto's suburbs when they were 14, and which they've kept going to this day, as both men edge up on 60.

Anvil: The Story of Anvil has a very weird relationship with This is Spinal Tap (for starters, Anvil's drummer is named Robb Reiner!): the movie is shot through with scenes that are almost line-for-line remakes of Tap, as when the boys sit around a deli recounting their early song "Thumbscrew," composed after a history class about the Spanish Inquisition. And the Anvil boys are very likeable heavy-metal doofuses: they play suburban Toronto venues for die-hard fans -- other middle-aged rockers who can drink a bottle of beer through one nostril while throwing devil-horns and chanting Satanic metal lyrics.

But there's lots of pathos and heart here too: Lips, the lead singer, is an artist who's given up everything to pursue his dreams. Instead of getting an education and a good job -- like his brother and sister, both middle-class, respectable types -- he drives a truck for a catering company that provides school lunches. He's a heavy metal god in a hairnet, pulling minimum wage delivering bananas and tuna casserole.

But Anvil was nearly great in their heyday. The movie opens with them playing the 1984 Super Rock in Japan, sharing a stage with The Scorpions, Whitesnake, and Bon Jovi (the movie also features interviews with successful metalheads like Slash, Lars Ulrich and Lemmy, singing the praises of Anvil). Read the rest

Dane who ripped his DVDs demands to be arrested under DRM law

In Denmark, it's legal to make copies of commercial videos for backup or other private purposes. It's also illegal to break the DRM that restricts copying of DVDs. Deciding to find out which law mattered, Henrik Anderson reported himself for 100 violations of the DRM-breaking law (he ripped his DVD collection to his computer) and demanded that the Danish anti-piracy Antipiratgruppen do something about. They promised him a response, then didn't respond. So now he's reporting himself to the police. He wants a trial, so that the legality of the DRM-breaking law can be tested in court.

However, in the period up to today, Henrik heard nothing from Antipiratgruppen, although their lawyer Thomas Schlüter did speak to the Danish press, saying that it was a political matter but had nevertheless reported the issue to the Association of Danish Videodistributors for consideration. In response, their chairman, Poul Dylov, said they would have a meeting to decide whether to report the matter to the police.

Antipiratgruppen said it would reply to Henrik by they date he requested. It seems they have broken their promise and strangely are insisting that they never received the email that Henrik sent them on the issue...

Henrik told us: "But who should I follow? Those that determine the laws in this country? Or those who are lawyers for the companies that i'm committing a crime against?"

But Henrik has a solution to their inaction.

"I decided to try to see if I can report myself directly to the police, for the case must be resolved," he told us.

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