200 Blockbuster stores to close

blockbusterSatellite TV provider Dish Network Corp. has announced it will close 200 Blockbuster stores in the US, leaving the number operating at about 1,500. Dish Network took over the failing movie rental company in April, bidding $320 million (finally paying in the region of $230 million) for it in a bankruptcy auction.

Speaking to The Wrap on Thursday, Dish Network spokesman Marc Lumpkin said that more than 15,000 people working at Blockbuster stores will remain in position, while those working at stores being shuttered will have the opportunity to take up posts at other Blockbuster locations.

Lumpkin said that many of the closures have come about because of problems with renewing leases on the stores. Back in April, a period of 90 days was given by the bankruptcy judge to negotiate with landlords.

He told The Wrap: “For the most part, the ones that have closed are as a result of the landlords choosing not to renew the leases.” He added: “We’ll continue to look for opportunities to expand, to open more stores, particularly in those areas where we wanted to keep stores open but the landlords didn’t renew leases.”

Blockbuster has suffered significantly in recent times at the hands of companies like Netflix, the popular DVD rental and video streaming service. Last week, however, Blockbuster had an opportunity to capitalize on the news that Netflix would be raising its rates.

Lumpkin commented on the price rise: “We said, ‘If you’re a Netflix customer, give us proof and we’ll give you a new low price on Blockbuster’s by-mail service.”

Looking at the Blockbuster news positively, 15,000 jobs remain, as do 90 percent of its store locations. Speaking to Hollywood reporter, Blockbuster president Michael Kelly said: “By lowering pricing and offering competitive summer promotions, we’ve brought millions of customers back into Blockbuster stores in the last three months to experience the best in convenience, choice and value.”

Image: Stu Pendousmat

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