We’ve all seen the little free library boxes in neighborhoods, but Ryan Daley had a better idea: free movies. The Arlington, Virginia, and D.C. native was inspired when he saw something similar in Philadelphia and decided to try the same at home. His first location? A Free Blockbuster box – filled with movies, popcorn, and candy – directly across the street from the Arlington eatery, Bob and Edith’s. Why? “I feel like diners and movies go together,” he said. Agreed.
The box, complete with the nostalgic colors and logo, was a love letter to a place he spent part of his childhood.
“I wanted to do something special for the movie lovers in the area, for the ones who enjoy movies as much as I do,” Daley said, noting there are now over 50 locations across the country. “I went to several thrift stores and pawn shops in the area and hand-picked over 100 movies, all movies I thought were amazing and worth watching.”
Brian Morrison was the first to set up a Free Blockbuster in 2019 and was inspired by two seemingly random events: a friend with a large movie collection who was unsure how to transport them during a cross country move and LA Weekly’s empty newspaper dispensers after they decided to reduce their print publications. Need, want, and opportunity. Morrison found all the hallmarks of a potential business idea.
Obviously, the trust factor comes into play here with Morrison adding that “we generally hope things make their way back” to the boxes, but he remains undeterred in his quest to bring the Blockbuster experience back to a whole new generation and to those who still feel nostalgic for that blue and yellow cultural hub.
“Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to make a Free Blockbuster,” Morrison continued, and he’s serious about that goal. If you would like to set up a Free Blockbuster in your neighborhood, a quick trip over to their website will provide you all the materials you need to get started including a Free Blockbuster box, logos, decals, and even “membership” cards.
You can follow their progress on their official Instagram page, @bluetapemovies.