In Montreal, journalist Louis-Philippe Messier is mostly on the run, with his desk in his backpack, looking for fascinating topics and people. In this city chronicle he speaks to everyone and is interested in all areas of life.
Montreal’s last video club has bravely defied Netflix for a while, even weathering the vagaries of the pandemic, but the lack of new releases on DVD is undermining its business model.
It was a matter of time, you might say.
Why did the Cinoche club on Avenue du Mont-Royal Est survive for ten years in the video clubs Beaubien and Le Septième (in Hochelaga) and seven years in the famous Boîte Noire?
The answer is simple: because of his owner Luc Major, who is incredibly stubborn and persistent.
He loved his video store so much that he devoted himself to it almost voluntarily.
“Last year I calculated that I was working here for the equivalent of $8 an hour, but I never do things based on money… that’s not what motivates me,” the 65-year-old claims.
Brilliantly and deliberately anachronistic, Mr. Major entered the DVD rental business in 1998, just as the Internet was beginning to destabilize the film industry.
When the repertory video club Phos (in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges and Saint-Lambert) folded in 2010, Mr. Major bought back its 8,000 DVDs and inherited 10,000 VHS tapes.
“I kept the 10,000 tapes in my room in the three-and-a-half-year-old apartment above the Cinoche store on Duluth Street, which is now closed. »
“I sold them little by little. »
Mr. Major hesitated until the last minute before confirming to the Journal de Montréal that he was suspending his activities.
During my visit to the site on Tuesday, Hydro-Québec gave us a nice little unexpected outage. That’s why the photos are so dark. This atmosphere matched the state of mind of the person I was talking to… in sadness.
“It breaks my heart, I thought about closing my club before and even started selling certain DVDs, but I stopped because it hurt me too much,” he recalls.
What convinced this DVD rental enthusiast to stop was the fact that fewer and fewer films were being released in this dying medium.
“New releases are rare and there are almost no French or Quebec films. For example, The Firefly Goddess was not released on DVD. »
The poster will soon appear on the window of the last traditional video club in the metropolis: large DVD resolution from November 4th.
Why this date? Luc Major works at the Olympic Village golf course until November 1st.
Chantal Poirier / JdeM
A power outage darkened Cinoche’s premises, as if to reflect its owner’s grieving state of mind.
Will he open a cinema?
What will he do when the supply runs out? Travel ? He doesn’t have a passport (as he worked continuously).
“I once read somewhere that workaholics like me have to work hard to go on vacation and I got my passport papers but never filled them out and now the photos are out of date. »
Mr. Major is left with nothing. Not only does he dare to finally issue a passport, but as the owner of his commercial apartment he also doesn’t rule out opening a small arthouse cinema with 40 seats there.
He also owns shares in Café Reine Garçon, located in his former video club in Duluth, which was voted “Montreal’s Best Café of 2023” by Cult magazine readers.
According to my research, there are five video clubs left in Quebec. There are two Videotron superclubs in Mont-Laurier and Saint-Lin. There is the VideoPro club in La Malbaie and the Flash in Rock Forest. In Quebec, in the Saint-Sauveur district, there is the Vidéo Centre-Ville.
Chantal Poirier / JdeM
Luc Major does not rule out building a small arthouse cinema with 40 seats in the premises of his former video club.