Blockbuster Sees Huge Spike in Sales After Super Bowl Commercial
The last Blockbuster standing saw an increase in sales after they shared a commercial on social media during Super Bowl LVII. Sandi Harding, the general manager at the Bend, Oregon store, told TMZ there was a huge boost in merchandise sales at their website. The store operates as a tourist destination, selling Blockbuster merchandise to those missing the days when they could rent one of 14 copies of Titanic.
The store saw twice the number of online merchandise orders on Monday, more than all of the previous week combined, Harding said. She credited the "Until the Bitter End" commercial they released on Sunday. The low-fi commercial shows a cockroach that has seemingly survived an apocalypse being welcomed into the store. "The last Blockbuster in the world... rending your favorite films 'til the bitter end," the video teased.
Since Fox charged up to $7 million for a 30-second spot, Harding could not afford to broadcast the commercial during the game. Instead, they posted it on social media. They also got help from Atlantic New York, an ad agency that donated its time to create it. Theodore Schaefer and Paul Gale directed the spot. Harding hoped that her efforts inspire other small businesses to use the Super Bowl to boost sales, even if they can't afford to air a spot on television.
Harding was featured in the 2020 documentary The Last Blockbuster, which gained national attention when it surfaced on Netflix. The documentary was so popular on the streamer, which ironically helped in Blockbuster's demise, Netflix ordered a short-lived sitcom to cash in on the nostalgia. Blockbuster starred Randall Park as a fictionalized last Blockbuster store, with Melissa Fumero, Olga Merediz, Tyler Alvarez, and Madeline Arthur co-starring. The show earned poor reviews and was canceled after one season.
The Oregon store received the title of "last Blockbuster store in the U.S." in July 2018 after the store in Anchorage, Alaska shuttered. They hosted a huge party, which left the store smelling like beer for a week, Harding told USA Today in November 2022. In May 2019, Harding's store became the last Blockbuster in the world when a store in Perth, Australia closed. The manager called Harding to wish them good luck.
"It was bittersweet. We always used to joke, 'How can we knock them off?'" Harding told USA Today. "We were excited to be the last one. But at the same time, the reality is people were losing their jobs. That was not lost on us."
Harding's store only has four full-time employees and eight part-timers, she told Road Trippers in October 2022. Her son, Ryan, served as the former assistant manager and is now overseeing the online merchandise shop and social media pages. Most of their movie inventory comes from Vobile Inc., but Harding said she sometimes has to buy movies themselves. "The morning that Avengers: Endgame was released, I was up early hitting Target, Best Buy, and Walmart, buying up copies for when we opened that day," she said. "That's how we get all our new releases, Disney films, and television shows for the store now."