ATOMIC CITY VIDEO® was founded in 1980 by filmmaker Roger Corwin who built a minor Hollywood empire in the late 1950’s and 1960’s producing low-budget “B-Movies” for the drive-in theater circuit. His two biggest successes; ‘Drag Strip Zombies’ and ‘Bikini Bloodbath’ sparked moral outrage among conservative groups, educational and religious organizations thanks to Corwin’s over-the-top use of sex, nudity, shocking violence and gore. Following its initial release ‘Bikini Bloodbath’ would go on to become the highest grossing independent film of all-time until the release of ‘John Carpenter’s Halloween’ in 1978.
Changing audience tastes, bad investments and a string of box office failures in the mid-1970s left Corwin near financial ruin leading to the eventual collapse of ‘Corwin International Pictures’. He quietly left the film industry and retired to the Las Vegas valley in 1978.
From his desert home Corwin watched as seemingly overnight the home video rental market which began modestly in the late 1970’s suddenly exploded and the “home video revolution” swept the nation. Never one to miss an opportunity, citing the popularity of home video cassette recorders (VCR) and the recent adoption of the VHS format (over Betamax) by the adult film industry, Corwin opened the first ATOMIC CITY VIDEO® in Las Vegas on Thursday, July 1, 1980.
“Atomic Video” as it was known locally was named after Nevada’s long history with atomic weapons testing. A fitting brand identity since atomic radiation was influential in many of Corwin’s early “CREATURE FEATURES” often serving as the catalyst for several of his most famous (and infamous) cinematic monsters and mutants.
A second store in Henderson (Atomic #002) opened in 1982 followed by the first Arizona location in the West Valley (Atomic #003) which opened in early 1983 helping Atomic establish a strong foothold in the southwest. In 1984, “ATOMIC CITY VIDEO” became “ATOMIC VIDEO” as the small chain expanded beyond its home state of Nevada.
Attempting to honor the Horror film legacy of their founder, the 3 Arizona locations began holding their successful “Friday Night Frights” rental events in October of 1985 featuring special screenings of genre titles, special in-store promotions such as the pioneering move of offering free popcorn and 2-for-1 horror rentals throughout October.
Boosted by the rise in popularity of "slasher" films during the mid-1980's ‘Friday Night Frights’ soon became a customer favorite and annual event at all Atomic Video locations.
As America’s appetite for home entertainment grew, so did Atomic Video. By 1992 there were Atomic Video® locations in 48 states. Recognized as a rental industry pioneer in 1999, Mr. Corwin was honored with the prestigious Golden Tape® Award at a special ceremony in Las Vegas.
Roger Corwin passed away on November 21, 2003. At the time of his death, thanks to his tireless work and innovative ideas, ATOMIC VIDEO® successfully secured its place among the leaders of the home video rental industry.
The company continued its heated battle against rival chains, outlasting both Mega Video® and Movietown®, but In early 2014, after struggling for nearly a decade to remain profitable in a rapidly changing marketplace, the company was forced to file for bankruptcy, eventually shuttering all but one location.
ATOMIC VIDEO® (Location #003) remains open in the same location where it has been entertaining west valley residents since opening its doors back in 1983. Still offering specialty and hard-to-find films, blockbusters and boutique titles to film buffs, collectors and students. ATOMIC VIDEO® is located in the Graceland Hills Plaza with other 1980s survivors, Pink Torpedo™, BattleZone Arcade™ and Toxic Comics®.