Not even a generous donation from John Oliver could save Alaska’s last Blockbuster. Though the video rental chain filed for bankruptcy in 2010, a handful of independently owned franchises kept rolling along for years after. But this summer, two more are selling their inventory and shutting down, leaving one lone Blockbuster standing. And it’s not the one that boasts Russell Crowe’s leather jockstrap from Cinderella Man.
In April, John Oliver highlighted the unique struggle of these Blockbuster franchises.
In the piece, he suggested that possessing exclusive movie memorabilia might help these nearly obsolete stores stay alive. And so, he took advantage of Crowe’s passive-aggressive Art of Divorce auction. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver spent $7,000 on the Cinderella Man “groin protector” and “a bunch of pointless Russell Crowe memorabilia” and sent it to the Blockbuster in Fairbanks, Alaska, as a means of boosting its business. It was a bold and bonkers move, which didn’t work. But hey, it did give Crowe enough money to fund a koala chlamydia clinic in Oliver’s name.
The show did a follow-up segment in May, which broke down the bizarre unfurling of Crowe’s “special” response.
With the Fairbanks’ Blockbuster closing, what will become of Oliver’s treasure trove of Crowe movie memorabilia? “The memorabilia is probably going to go back to the owner,” The franchise’s general manager, Kevin Daymude, told The Anchorage Daily News. “Which is fine, because I don’t want a jockstrap in my house.”
Last Week Tonight is on break until July 29th. Then, we suspect we’ll hear Oliver’s future plans for this world-famous genital guard. Perhaps it could go on display at The John Oliver Chlamydia Ward? Or perhaps it could go to the last Blockbuster standing. It’s in Bend, Oregon, and it’s going strong.
Its general manager, Sandi Harding, was surprised when ADN reached out to her for comment, as she had no idea that her Blockbuster had achieved this bittersweet distinction. “Alaska had always been — I always thought they’d outlast us,” she said. “If you’d asked me 14 years ago, there’s no way I’d thought we’d be the last one. It just seems a little crazy.”
It is a little crazy. Not celebrity jock straps and koala chlamydia ward level crazy. Or not yet anyway.