Established in 1987, Hollywood Express was a Boston area-based video store and long-standing sanctuary for cinephiles both locally and worldwide. Over the years, the store received visits from actors including Natalie Portman, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and John Malkovich, to only name a few, in addition to a wealth of filmmakers and film scholars who came through their doors.
The expansive video collection held by Hollywood Express consisted of a vast assortment of cult, experimental, foreign, classic, horror and blockbuster films, ranging from the birth of film to contemporary cinema. The company held four locations, with the last location in Porter Square being closed in 2015, after almost thirty years of business.
Owned by George Lewis, Hollywood Express represented more than just a video store. It was a place of community, where film lovers congregated to share their recent viewings, and browsed around the shelves for something eye-catching, rare, enlightening or just plain entertaining. Lewis and Hollywood Express’ founding partners, David Maxwell and Charlie Yazijian, built their business around the idea of the need to stock films that were harder to obtain, to be able to compete with the larger, corporate video stores like Blockbuster. Unfortunately, despite Hollywood Express’s praised efforts, they could not escape the effects of the inevitable technological changes in home cinema.
Around the world, video stores crumbled as factors like Netflix, Redbox and an onslaught of video-on-demand and online streaming services usurped the at-home film viewing experience. In 1998, Suffolk and Middlesex counties contained 152 video rental stores. By 2013, only thirteen remained. Neither smaller, local stores, nor larger, corporate conglomerates were spared. In 2007, about 15,300 video stores existed within the United States. By 2017, approximately 86% of those stores were out-of-business. In George Lewis’ own words, “The Internet’s killed the video store.”
About the Collection
After the closure announcement of Hollywood Express’s final location in 2015, the Harvard Film Archive acquired 529 VHS tapes from the beloved local video store, allowing for the passionately curated collection to be shared with students and researchers in the years to come. A list of titles in the collection can be provided upon request to the Collections Archivist, though please be advised that videotapes will need to be reformatted prior to research viewing so advanced notice for viewing appointments is required.