Joining those cute free library boxes, food donation spots, and even seed packet exchanges popping up in neighborhoods near you is an idea that will have you recalling the days you browsed the aisles of your local video rental store: the movie lending library.
The Free Blockbuster concept imitates that of the Little Free Libraries: when you borrow something, you leave one in exchange. This keeps the “library” stocked and active. In the case of the Free Blockbusters, videos are being exchanged — making it kind of like RedBox with a more eclectic selection. And no charge.
Back in 2018, the founder of Free Blockbuster, Brian Morrison, got the idea to convert old and no-longer-used newspaper vending boxes into spots for people to share their old school VHS tapes, DVDs and BluRays. (The Free Blockbuster movement is not officially associated with the real Blockbuster.)
Here’s one of the free media exchange boxes outside a comic book and gaming store in Minnesota, as posted by Twitter user @scottmeslow. It’s owned by Paul Zenisek, who chimed in on a reply.
Hey I own that box – Thanks for spreading the love!
— Paul Zenisek (@pzenisek) August 24, 2021
When you think about the number of DVDs you have lying around, unwatched, and to what great lengths you’ll go to avoid paying a rent/buy fee for movies that Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other subscription services don’t have streaming for free, the Free Blockbuster idea really is genius!
Turns out many other people liked the concept, too. Free Blockbusters have begun popping up around the U.S. You may also be near a similar video lending library site that’s more local. For example, Video Honor System popped up in 2019 with a location in Northridge, California, telling Free Blockbuster it was “the Hollywood Video to your Blockbuster Video.”
If you live in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area, you can find a Free Blockbuster DMV cluster of lending libraries. The same goes for the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Richmond, Virginia. Los Angeles, California, and Portland, Oregon also have a number of Free Blockbusters around.
Here’s a cute homemade one from Hillsboro, not far from Portland, as posted on the @FREEBLOCKBUSTER Twitter.
This lending library on NE Hyde Street in Hillsboro, OR was erected in memory of Jerry Gosling and premiered on September 3rd, his birthday, of this year https://t.co/YySUlc2dng pic.twitter.com/YUHSzRHK1f
— FREEBL0CKBUSTER.ORG (@FREEBL0CKBUSTER) September 17, 2021
One Philly resident, as shown below in this @FREEBLOCKBUSTER Twitter post, donated his entire VHS collection of classic movies on which he’d drawn detailed labels for every film. Free Blockbuster locations will sometimes have movie snacks tucked inside too, because what self-respecting Blockbuster didn’t have treats like popcorn available?
Thank you Mr. Moore!#repost @freeblockbusterphilly
Coming soon to a Philly @freeblockbuster near you!
We are happy to have acquired the self-recorded VHS collection of Bill Moore, a WWII veteran and avid movie buff, who graciously donated all of his ta… https://t.co/iYOn222egn pic.twitter.com/lGDpBZhcZZ
— FREEBL0CKBUSTER.ORG (@FREEBL0CKBUSTER) June 29, 2021
Someone in Missouri even set up a Free Blockbuster in their office at an unused cubicle! Here it is:
— FREEBL0CKBUSTER.ORG (@FREEBL0CKBUSTER) September 15, 2021
— FREEBL0CKBUSTER.ORG (@FREEBL0CKBUSTER) June 17, 2021
In August, the Twitter account notes, one was set up in Australia, too.
Incredibly exciting news! This little free video store outside @ritz_cinema is officially the first @freeblockbuster in #Australia!
Our international movement is growing every day! #repost @ritz_cinema with
Welcome to the Ritz Video Store!
— FREEBL0CKBUSTER.ORG (@FREEBL0CKBUSTER) August 24, 2021
If you’re curious as to whether there’s a Free Blockbuster near you, check out the official site for a map of locations. Don’t see one? It’s easy to start up your own. And the Free Blockbuster site even offers supplies to help you: you can get a complete box to set up at a site of your choice, or stickers and magnets to brand one you create.
Are you ready to create your own movie dropbox?