Time capsule: Video Ezy walked, so that Netflix could run

By Abigail d’Souza @abi_dsouzaa

We watch our favourite movies and TV shows on Netflix, Stan, Disney plus; they’re at our fingertips. But before those streaming services rose to power, we had mankind’s answer to at-home cinema: Video Ezy.

For anyone born before 2005, it’s time to brush the cobwebs out of your hair.

What is the sacred institution of Video Ezy you may ask? Imagine an overly air-conditioned library stocked with DVDs, CDs, console games and VHS tapes in place of books. Each aisle categorised by different genres, from anime to Hollywood romcoms to Russian crime. Video Ezy was a bridge between the old and the new.

The very first store opened in 1983 in South Sydney’s Hurstville and gained popularity as a means of viewing the latest films for an extremely affordable price, from the comfort of home. The business quickly gained traction and expanded, with stores spreading across Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the UAE.

What made it so special? The rental store was the middleman between movie producers and the public. The experience of excitedly strolling up and down aisles stocked with thousands of movies, selecting a few (on Cheaper Tuesdays for the best value of course), probably indulging in some fast-food on a Friday night, and cozying up on the sofa to watch what was most likely a highly scratched DVD, was arguably the peak of cinema.

I was curious, so I asked my followers to give me their own opinions and experience with Video Ezy. Here’s what they had to say:

Graphic: Instagram responses to a survey by Abigail D’Souza 

Looking back, Video Ezy had a pivotal role in helping us appreciate the art of filmmaking, physical media, film posters and got us excited about creative content before the rise of social media. 

But all good things must come to an end. With the rise of technology, piracy and streaming services, the franchise slowly began closing its doors to the public through a gradual process of liquidation. For a few years, they introduced Video Ezy Express, a movie rental kiosk system to replace large physical stores; these aged quite poorly. 

Although closed down, some of the buildings show signs that the franchise once existed. Picture: AS1979/CC/flickr

Fast forward to February 2023 and Netflix is the leading streaming provider worth over $USD140 billion ($A212.5 billion). And it’s only growing larger. Our future is clearly headed for a more online streaming experience, and yes it has its pros, but it’s important to remember and treasure where we started.

The franchise’s legacy can be heard in the nostalgic, fond memories of the public. It was a weekly tradition for many and became a community haven.

Aisles were filled with the latest movies as well as old-gold ones. Picture: RS 1990/CC/OpenVerse

Perhaps movie theatres are our last piece of the past to clutch on to before they experience the same woeful fate of movie rental businesses.

Feature image: A treasure house of stories (and memories). Ryan Smith/CC/flickr 

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