Where do you get your movies from?
Increasingly, people are turning to free—often illegal—internet downloads.
The advent of direct downloads to your television via telecom companies has also taken off. In Iceland, you pay a fee (not that cheap, mind you, and the selection not that thrilling) to be able to view a film over a 24-hour period.
Convenient yes, but what is the fun in that?
The days of going to the video store are on their way out.
Earlier this year, a friend of mine in Australia laughed at me in disbelief when I told her I was going to the video store. “Video store? They’re practically obsolete here,” she said.
How lucky this still exists in Iceland, I thought.
They have largely been replaced with video hire vending machines at supermarkets, my friend explained, just like the ones I saw on a trip to the States a couple of years back.
But, recently, Grensásvídeó, arguably the country’s best video store, announced that it was closing its doors. And there have been rumors of others following suit.
While I haven’t seen movies being banished to vending machines in Iceland just yet (I hear it may exist in some of the 10-11 convenience stores), the video rental chain Bónusvídeó has taken much of the fun out of hiring a movie.
At the store I made the exception of visiting recently, I had to enter my kennitala (social security number) on a touch screen computer, type in the movie I was looking for, print out the information, hand it to the cashier and pay—no need for any communication with the staff, really.
A visit to Grensásvídeó was another experience altogether. Customers visited the store as much for a chat as for the selection and expert film advice.
On announcing that the store was closing and all stock was up for sale, people queued out the door in the freezing cold hoping to pick up a few of their favorite movies and visit the store one last time.
Like other small business owners, the owner of Grensásvídeó, Ragnar Snorrason, put his heart and soul into the store but sadly times have changed and free downloads are too easily accessible and convenient for such a business to prosper in such a small community.
“This business is dead, simple as that. It would be completely different if we were in a city of one million. That would be three or four times my customers,” Ragnar told mbl.is in a recent interview.
“It’s the competition with the internet which makes this business completely hopeless, despite having worked hard to have material which is not available in other places in the country, a lot of Nordic, British, Italian and French material,” he stated.
Zoë Robert – email@example.com