Film lovers, brace yourselves. A prolonged period of mourning is in order, as legendary Rocket Video closes its doors at the end of the month.
The independent video rental store has been a fixture in Hollywood for over thirty years, due to its trove of hard-to-find classics, indie movies, and other esoteric screen offerings. It announced its rapid shut-down on Tuesday. According to store manager Jeff Miller, the owners only called up staff on Monday to announce that they were calling it quits.
For many customers, the thirty-year-old Rocket shop is a mainstay in their lives and an antidote to the Blockbusters and Netflix of the world. When asked how people have reacted, Miller says, “Some people have cried. I've been getting emails and Facebook messages from families mentioning how when they got married, the first thing they did was open up a Rocket Video account, and how they'd rent movies there for their children.”
Some clientele need grief counseling; others are carefully being kept in blissful ignorance. “One of our biggest celebrity customers is Faye Dunaway,” Miller adds. “I think she's gonna be upset. She's been one of our biggest supporters.” He pauses. “We haven't told her yet.”
The bittersweet side to this is that all of Rocket's inventory is going to be on sale starting Saturday. Many of its hard-to-find merchandise will be deeply, deeply discounted; DVDs are going for $8.99, and their magnificent collection of VHSs will go for barely a dollar each. That said, don't expect to snag a collector's item for under ten dollars. “There are some things that we'll be pulling out to sell on eBay, because we know it's rare,” Miller says.
Rocket Video is even selling its red-and-yellow spacecraft, after which the store is named. But the store won't entirely disappear; 5,000 titles are being donated to the American Film Institute, so at least students can remember the shop by name.
The venue has always been famous for its events that feature cult film directors, indie actors, and top celebrities. Last night, Miller hosted a final DVD signing with Asian screen icon Nancy Kwan. Plans for events with Jerry Lewis and Dick Van Dyke that were in the works now have to be canceled.
Miller says, “That's one of the things I'll miss the most — being able to meet my heroes. It's going to be a little tearful tonight, when I go up there and tell people that this is it.”
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