Randwick’s Ritz Cinemas has channelled nostalgia for the pre-Netflix era into a “video store” it’s installed out the front of its doors while it’s closed for lockdown. Just like the old days, locals can head in and browse for DVDs and videos to take home and plug in (that is, if they still have a DVD or VCR player). Everything’s free to borrow, and punters are encouraged to donate any VHS tapes or DVDs they no longer want.
“The idea behind it is that we can imagine there are lots of people out there who have old DVDs and VHS tapes they’re not using that they’d be happy to donate,” Jessa Shields, communications and special programming manager at Moving Story Entertainment, which own the Ritz, tells Broadsheet. “And, to take a break from Netflix and the other streamers, perhaps people might be keen on the idea of browsing a DVD/VHS library and choosing a film for that night – the old-school way. There’s something really charming about browsing through a physical library of films, and really satisfying when you choose a good one to watch.”
Shields also reckons it’s a nice way for the cinema to connect with the local community while it remains closed during Sydney’s ongoing lockdown.
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The “shop” sits out the front of the Ritz, in a shelving unit made from milk crates. People can bring DVDs and VHS tapes they wish to donate, or borrow something to return later. (Unlike Blockbuster or Video Ezy, there are no “overnight” or “seven-day” rentals here; everything works on an honour system.)
To keep spirits high, the Ritz is also hosting scavenger hunts across different Sydney suburbs. Once a week it’ll hide an envelope with a double pass to the Ritz (to use once it reopens), and post clues in its Instagram stories.
Still prefer online streaming (or threw out your VCR player years ago)? the Ritz has a bunch of new-release and classic films to stream from its at-home platform. Or, check out a host of other Sydney independent cinemas offering streaming services in lockdown.