Blockbuster considers closing 960 stores

Firm aims to operate 10,000 rental kiosks by mid-2010

Money-losing Blockbuster, the nation's biggest movie retailer, could get about 20% smaller if it shuts down 960 of its 4,400 U.S. stores, as it said it might do in a regulatory filing Tuesday.

It's no secret Blockbuster has been closing stores at a rapid clip, but the 960-figure is more than twice what was previously expected. Blockbuster could close as many as 685 stores this year and 275 next year.

Blockbuster said in its filing that it will save about $30 million annually by shuttering that many stores, though lease termination costs could set the company back $60 million.

Blockbuster, as has been chronicled ad nauseam, has been hemorrhaging money and customers because of competitive threats mostly from Netflix and Redbox.

The company has its own responses to those threats, of course. And, in fact, if it expands its Redbox-like offering from 500 kiosks now to 10,000 a year from now, as it says it will, Blockbuster's presence could actually be larger by the end of 2010 than it is today, despite the store closings.