Where to find the first “Free Blockbuster” box in Houston?

Rafael Rodriguez loves movies but also misses the way he made movies.

Growing up as a young movie buff in Mexico City, Rodriguez watched movies every week at a local cinema. But he also visited video stores where he came across movie fans who wanted to chat in the store. “The video stores were a place where I could go and talk to people, like” Did you see that? “Says a mechanical engineer from Sugar Land.

Video stores are a thing of the past, but Rodriguez was still looking for a place in Houston where he and others like him could buy and / or recommend movies. That’s when he found out about FreeBlockbuster.org.

Launched in Los Angeles in 2019, the site specializes in selling kits and supplies to people who want to set up a free video library in their area. This is like any neighborhood borrowing library – except that instead of picking up or dropping off books in little decorative boxes dotted around neighborhoods, people can take or leave movies. And the movies can be in any format: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray. As long as it’s not hateful or pornographic, FreeBlockbuster welcomes all contributions. “They told me, ‘All you need is a box,’ says Rodriguez, who got it from a company in Minnesota.

FreeBlockbuster.org started when Brian Morrison, Angeleno (and a former Blockbuster employee) started creating free video libraries from discarded LA Weekly boxes.

FreeBlockbuster.org started when Brian Morrison, Angeleno (and a former Blockbuster employee) started creating free video libraries from discarded LA Weekly boxes.

Staff of Chron

FreeBlockbuster.org started when Brian Morrison, Angeleno (and a former Blockbuster employee) started creating free video libraries from discarded LA Weekly boxes. “They didn’t use those newspaper boxes anymore,” says Morrison. “But there are still a few in town, just decaying and collecting trash.”

The FreeBlockbuster box didn’t arrive on the East Coast until the following year, when it arrived in Richmond, Virginia. Currently, there are approximately 165 franchises not only in the US, but also in Canada, Mexico, the UK and Australia.

FreeBlockbuster box at Grand Prize Bar

FreeBlockbuster box at Grand Prize Bar

Craig D. Lindsey

Rodriguez’s FreeBlockbuster Box debuted in Houston earlier this year under the name Tex-Mex Cinema. (He even has an Instagram page.) One of the two Texas stalls (the other is in Austin) is at the Grand Prize Bar on Banks Street, just outside the Museum Quarter. “The museum district is the cultural core of our city,” says Rodriguez. “In addition, the bar is very supportive of different types of art. They’re always playing some black and white or classic movie. “

Grand Prize drinks manager Daniel Jircik says the box was an interesting addition to the bar’s back patio. “The fact that it requires a small extra cost from us is also great,” says Jircik, who feels that “the box is a kind of skewed shopping basket with a few treasures sprinkled on it.” “I know one of our regulars, James, was excited to find Criterion there,” he recalls.

Rodriguez already plans to bring more boxes to other areas, including locations in the Hills and Rice Village. “[People] they made more videos than they uploaded, but so far it has worked. It really worked.

Morrison always urges franchise owners to be calm about everything. “The best suggestion is to remember that this is not a job,” he says. “This is something you do for fun, as a gift to your community. So if someone cleans up, you don’t have to buy a few videos and fill them up again. Let him sit there. See what happens, you know? We all have sufficient responsibility. It is not a responsibility. That’s funny.

Morrison and Rodriguez are not the only ones extending the life of the Blockbuster name that DISH Network has owned for years and which Morrison has used in his project. Netflix also has a new script comedy about the last blockbuster in existence, aptly titled “Blockbuster,” which premieres Thursday. Meanwhile actual the last Blockbuster left started a store in Bend, Oregon.

For all the nostalgia people have for the iconic movie rental chain, its legacy is complicated: some movie lovers denounce the company for extorting independent mom and pop video stores in the 1980s and 1990s, let alone a limited selection of older movies for sale. in many locations and the network’s habit of censoring the titles they actually wore.

Maybe the pink feeling for Blockbuster is more related to an enduring belief in physical media. Boutique distributors such as The Criterion Collection, Arrow Video, and Kino Lorber continue to release DVDs and Blu-ray Discs to all moviegoers who want copies of their favorite movies. While there are countless streaming and video-on-demand services full of movies, titles often suddenly disappear from digital libraries. “With streaming, the copyright owner can decide to remove the video tomorrow and you can’t access it,” says Morrison. “It’s a bit Orwellian to give these rights holders the ability to just erase things from our cultural history.”

Of course, there are movies that have never been digitally released. Morrison says: “There are tons of VHS or DVD movies that you won’t find streaming because they are too little known, someone finds them unprofitable, they’re small movies that never got much distribution …”

Rodriguez, always a purist, believes that nothing beats having a copy of the film in your hands. “When you get the DVD, you have something physical that … need to watch, ”he says. “It’s not random browsing, it’s just trying to find something to watch.”

As Morrison says, these FreeBlockbuster boxes are designed to give people the ability to see something they might have ignored or missed while rewinding the streamer. “When you go to a FreeBlockbuster location,” he says, “you can pick something you’d never thought to watch, and I think it’s really exciting.”

“We are not a corporation,” adds Morrison. “We’re not here to grow or maximize. We’re only here to do something nice for our neighbors. ‘


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