I Never Returned My Last Blockbuster Rental. How Much Would I Owe Them?

Once upon a time, Blockbuster was a feature of every high street and was a key ingredient for a weekend on the sofa. It was a hard pill to swallow when the final Blockbuster closed its doors in 2014 and we witnessed the end of an era. Blockbuster’s glory days – when they had over 9,000 stores worldwide – are pervasive in my memories and are responsible for my wealth of knowledge in movies.

Last Sunday, once I managed to prize open a drawer that had been jammed since the summer of 2003, those memories came flooding back after I moved aside a pile of dusty, dated takeaway menus and saw that magical Blockbuster blue staring back at me.

Beyond the nostalgia, holding the tape in my hands got me thinking – how much do I truly owe Blockbuster?


video tape
Gone are the days of video tapes and Blockbuster, but how much would I owe them for not returning my rentals?


Judging by the dates on the receipt next to the tape, I took out Bend It Like Beckham in 2002, keen to watch it in its early days, and importantly, when Blockbuster’s late fees were still imposed. Two decades ago, late fees were simple; you failed to return your tape on time, you were charged £1 per day for ten days, until you had to pay a replacement fee which would range based on the film. For argument’s sake, let’s say the replacement fee was £15. That’s £15 + £10 in late fees, amassing a hefty £25.

Now, as a keen investor, to me, £25 does not mean £25. That £25 represents an opportunity.

Rewind to 2002, and say I invested my £25, and I decided to invest it in the S&P 500 Index with a respectable 9.3% annual rate of return. I arrive in 2021 and I am the proud profiteer of £110, leaving me with £135 that technically belongs to Blockbuster.

And I can’t pretend that I didn’t feel more than a little bit smug when I worked my way to the bottom of that dreaded drawer to learn that I also hadn’t returned 8 Mile, a film of the same year. Frankly, knowing that my ‘winnings,’ so to speak, had just doubled, I felt just as, if not more, successful than Eminem. That’s £270 we’re talking.


What Could I Buy With £270?




My first thought was pizza. I can never justify paying Domino’s prices. Who can? But now that (thanks to Blockbuster) money is no object, I can splurge. With my £270 profits, I can now be the satisfied owner of 13-and-a-half Large Vegetarian Supremes. No laughing matter.






A very apt use of money: investing in arguably the biggest contributor to Blockbuster’s downfall. I feel like Judas, but I also feel pleased knowing that I can enjoy over 16 months of Netflix premium on Blockbuster’s money.




Jet Ski

No real rhyme or reason to this one. They’re just cool. I could lighten my overflowing wallet and make the wise decision to purchase a second-hand (but first class) Yamaha VX 110 – with free delivery.






Or, I could invest this money and retain this warm, fuzzy feeling, constantly perusing what my earnings could buy me. Over the years, this money could explode. Who knows where by Blockbuster Bills will take me.




How Do I Feel?


I can’t help but feel guilty, and – in a ripple effect sort of way – responsible for their downfall. That’s why I decided to enter the business of issuing payday loans… so that I can help others stay afloat, when I know the hard truth that Blockbuster couldn’t.