Update 2: Dish Network Corporation has got back to me and it looks like the story is bunk. A spokesperson told me: "Contrary to media reports, Dish Network Corporation and Blockbuster L.L.C. have not entered into any licensing agreement for the Blockbuster brand in the UK, nor has it made any statements on the subject." The original statement has also been removed from the website of Crash Entertainment Group. I've been chasing Crash for clarification and will update this story if I hear back. The original story follows.
In a twist that's worthy of the most hackneyed Hollywood screenwriter, DVD rental chain Blockbuster is back from the dead. The struggling rental chain finally shut up shop in December, resulting in 808 job losses. But now Dish Network Corporation has licensed the Blockbuster brand to Crash Entertainment Group, and Crash has some pretty big plans, Eurogamer reports.
Crash will open new stores, re-brand some of its own, get the mail DVD distribution business up and running, and even get Blockbuster streaming films too.
Crash will open 10 new Blockbuster stores by late 2014, and will rebrand its five Crash Entertainment shops on the Isle of Man as Blockbuster. It'll get Blockbuster's mail DVD service going again, and run streaming service Blockbuster On Demand
through Virgin Media's TiVo service.
Update 1: Virgin Media has confirmed it isn't in talks about offering Blockbuster On Demand through its TiVo service. A spokesperson told me in a statement: "You can already watch an unbeatable choice of on demand movies with Virgin Media and we are not in discussions about a service from Blockbuster." I've chased Dish Network for more info and will update this story if I hear back. The original story continues.
Joseph P. Clayton, Dish Network's CEO and president, said in a statement: "This is good news for Blockbuster customers in the UK, as consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment.
"Despite our closing of the physical distribution elements of the business, we continue to see value in the Blockbuster brand, and we expect to leverage that brand as we continue to expand our digital offerings."
Blockbuster went into administration in January 2013, when 160 stores closed. In March last year, Deloitte sold the chain to an investment company called Gordon Brothers Europe. It was thought that 264 Blockbuster stores would stay open, saving 2,000 jobs, but that wasn't to be. By the winter, the brand was on the slide again, with further closures in November, ahead of the final round in December.
Hopefully this will breathe new life into the brand, and help our beleaguered British high street.
Would you like to see Blockbuster make a comeback? Can it ever compete with the likes of Amazon? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.