Iceland’s Last Dedicated Video-Rental Store Closes

Video-rental store

At the end of the month, Iceland’s last dedicated video-rental store*, Aðalvideoleigan in downtown Reykjavík, will close. The owner of the store hopes to sell as much of his collection to “finance the losses accrued over the past two years.”

A kind of institution among local filmmakers

In a Facebook post published yesterday, Reynir Maríuson, known more familiarly as Aðal-Reynir, announced that he would be closing Aðalvideoleigan – “the last dedicated video-rental store in Iceland” – located on Klapparstígur in downtown Reykjavík.

“Starting tomorrow, March 10, there will be an incredible selection of DVD titles for sale, from all over the world and from all genres. Now do me one last favour, dear friends, and share this post – and come help me close so that I can offset some of the losses that have accumulated over the past two years.”

As noted in an interview with Reynir from 2017, Aðalvideoleigan’s collection boasts nearly 30,000 titles. Reynir has been around the store for more than three decades. In a brief interview with Iceland Review today, IR inquired if it was accurate that Aðalvideoleigan had been founded in 1984. Reynir replied that there was no consensus regarding the exact date: “Ownership has changed hands over the years, but I’ve been around the store for something like 30 years.”

During his time at Aðalvideoleigan, Reynir observed that he had met “a lot of great people;” the store has served as something of a university for Icelandic film enthusiasts. In 2014, director Ragnar Bragason told a reporter from Monitor that Aðalvideoleigan had had a huge impact on his work: “I’ve often said that Aðalvideoleigan on Klapparstígur was my film school. I was a daily guest of the store for many years – and it was where I imbibed the history of film.”

When asked about its connection to the Icelandic film scene, Reynir maintained that most of the filmmakers in the country had, at some point, been patrons of the store: “There’s no Icelandic director – aside from, perhaps, the very young – who weren’t raised in Aðalvideoleigan.”

Saddened by the prospect

Reynir – obviously saddened by the fact that he was forced to close Aðalvideoleigan, and sell off at least part of the collection to offset the losses – rued the fact that many film enthusiasts had turned to streaming: “It’s sad that this cultural institution is being closed. And there’s no one there to keep it open. I also find it a bit odd how quickly all of the highbrow types migrated to streaming services.”

Numerous patrons expressed their sadness on Facebook at the prospect of Aðalvideoleigan closing. According to Aðalvideoleigan’s Facebook page, the store is open every day from 3 to 11.30 PM. Those interested can swing by and purchase DVDs to support Aðalvideoleigan.

*As noted in an article in Austurfrétt from January, a video-rental store is still being operated in Eskifjörður, East Iceland, although that store also vends vaping and tobacco products.

Stream Big

SCOTT JOPLIN

In 1899, American ragtime composer Scott Joplin – living in Sedalia, Missouri – composed The Maple Leaf Rag and hoped to get it published. He took the sheet music to John Stark, one of the leading publishers in town, who looked at it and scoffed.

“There are too many notes!”

Disappointed, Joplin aired his grievances to a young lawyer and a fan, who managed to convince Stark to buy The Maple Leaf Rag on the terms that the composer would receive one penny for each copy sold. Joplin may have thereby become the recipient of the first royalty payment in history.

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Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n’ Roll to Live Stream Concerts

The Hjómahöll cultural centre and Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Reykjanesbær are collaborating on a series of live-streamed concerts in the coming weeks. The series, “Látum okkar streyma,” (‘Let us stream’) kicked off with a live set by singer/songwriter Ásgeir on Thursday night.

Moses Hightower will play on April 2, followed by GDRN on April 7, and Hjálmar on April 16. All concerts will begin live-streaming at 8.00pm GMT. The series will also include a behind-the-scenes tour of exhibits at the Icelandic Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum with music icons Páll Óskar and Björgvín Halldórsson (date and time TBA) and Icelandic music trivia nights hosted through the Kahoot live platform on March 27 and April 3 at 2.00pm GMT.

The concert schedule may be added to in future days and can be found on the Hjómaholl Facebook page. Live streams can be viewed online via the Facebook page or RÚV website, or listened to on Rás 2.

Iceland’s Largest Electronic Store to Cease DVD Sales

ELKO, Iceland’s largest electronics retailer, will stop selling DVDs starting this fall, Fréttablaðið reports.

In a press release about the decision, marketing director Bragi Þór Antoníuson said the company had reached a crossroads, saying, “When ELKO opened its doors for its first customers in 1998, DVDs were among the first things you saw and ever since, they’ve been a big part of the store’s product offerings. But times change and today, it’s possible to access all that material through various streaming services.”

Since opening, ELKO has sold 1,985,000 DVDs and will sell close to 2 million by the time they discontinue DVD sales. The company is putting all its remaining DVDs on clearance, selling some for as little as ISK 95 ($0.76/€0.67). The company is creating a new eSports division in place of its DVD section, as competitive gaming is gaining popularity in Iceland; the Icelandic eSports Association was recently founded, for instance. The new eSports sections will include eSports merchandise as well as areas for gamers to gather and compete together.

ELKO’s decision to cease DVD sales comes in the wake of most of the country’s video rental shops closing their doors. Video rentals used to be ubiquitous around Iceland but have naturally become fewer and further between with the rise of online streaming service accessibility in Iceland. In 2015, for instance, the largest video store in the country, Laugarásvídeó shuttered after 30 years of operation.

Two Thirds of Icelanders Have Netflix

Two out of every three Icelandic residents have access to Netflix at home, according to a recent MMR survey. The data represents a big change since two years ago, when only one third had access to the service. RÚV reported first.

Young people seem most enthusiastic about the media provider: 90% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 have access to Netflix in their home. In comparison, just 24% of seniors have access to Netflix.

Netflix access is more common in the Reykjavík capital area than in rural Iceland, and access rates show a positive correlation with income levels. Politically speaking, supporters of the Pirate Party and the Reform Party are the most likely to have access to Netflix in their homes, with about three out of every four answering affirmatively. Progressive Party supporters are the least likely to, with only about half using the service at home.