A pillar of Portland's movie scene is in danger of closing.
Video rental store Movie Madness has been on Belmont for almost 30 years. As the rise of streaming has wiped out entire rental chains, Movie Madness has only become more treasured and its cult following more dedicated. Along with one of the largest and most thorough collections of movie titles in the country, Movie Madness is basically a museum that displays props from movies like Fight Club and Alien.
Now, founder Mike Clark has decided to retire. Clark, who's 71, has run the store since 1991. But to avoid shutting down and selling his collection of tens of thousands of titles, Clark has offered to sell his store to the Hollywood Theatre. As reported by the Portland Mercury, the independent movie theater has launched a Kickstarter campaign to buy Movie Madness. So far, the Kickstarter has raised $88,667 out of $250,000.
Clark wants to sell his store to the Hollywood for $250,000, which, according to the Hollywood, is less than half of the store's recently appraised value. If they succeed in buying the store, Hollywood will fold Movie Madness into their nonprofit status and their membership program. They also plan to keep the same staff.
Running a video store in 2017 is hardly a profitable venture. Portland's independent stores are kept alive by dedicated owners who run their stores as passion projects and cult followers of the physical format.
But it's not just nostalgic novelty. With over 80,000 DVDs, Movie Madness has more titles than Amazon, Netflix and Hulu combined. The store has a remarkably thorough selection of new releases, classics and would-be lost to time obscurities, organized by odd sub-genres like "Dead Teens" and "Problems With Rodents." Earlier this year, WW named Movie Madness Portland's Best Movie Store.
Portland's film world is rallying around the campaign. Along with Hollywood Theatre, Portland's most widely acclaimed filmmakers, Todd Haynes and Gus Van Sant, have voiced their support of keeping Movie Madness open. One of the perks for donating to the campaign is a screening of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and a "doll-themed rarity" hosted by Haynes. Seattle's legendary video store Scarecrow Video, which was recently saved from closing by a Kickstarter fund and becoming a nonprofit, are advising Hollywood's campaign. There are 30 days left in the Kickstarter campaign.