November 17, 2018
Following subscriber pushback regarding the shuttering of Turner Classic Movies SVOD service FilmStruck, The Criterion Collection announced it will launch its own freestanding service in spring 2019 through a special arrangement with WarnerMedia.
Wholly owned and controlled by the Criterion Collection, the independent Criterion Channel will pick up where it left off as an add-on to the FilmStruck service, with thematic programming, regular filmmaker spotlights, and actor retrospectives, featuring major classics and hard-to-find titles from Hollywood and around the world, complete with special features, including commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage and original documentaries.
The venerable library of films will also be part of WarnerMedia’s recently announced direct-to-consumer platform slated to launch in the fourth quarter of 2019. WarnerMedia is shutting down FilmStruck Nov. 29.
WarnerMedia — formed following AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner — announced the pending service “ensures that fans” have access to not only films from the Criterion Collection but also WarnerMedia’s extensive library “in what will be a rich and curated experience, which will further expand the audience footprint for these classic and acclaimed movies.”
Indeed, when news broke about the demise of FilmStruck, no less than Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, among other industry heavyweights, reportedly contacted WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey personally asking about an alternative solution.
Criterion’s new service will continue to produce guest programmer series “Adventures in Moviegoing,” which has featured cinephile luminaries such as Barry Jenkins, Guillermo del Toro, Bill Hader and Mira Nair. Criterion’s monthly 15-minute film school “Observations on Film Art,” “Tuesday’s Short + Feature” and the “Friday Double-Bill” will all be back as well.
Launched in 1984 with the Laserdisc releases of Citizen Kane (1941) and King Kong (1933), The Criterion Collection became known for its special-edition DVD and later Blu-ray Disc releases of restored classic films.
In 2011, Hulu licensed select Criterion titles for streaming, an arrangement FilmStruck acquired in 2016.
Criterion announced it expects the new service to be available in the United States and Canada at launch, rolling out to additional territories over time.
Fans can sign up for the new service at Criterion.com/channel.
Charter members, following a 30-day free trial, will receive a reduced rate of $9.99 per month or $89.99 per year for as long as they keep their subscription active. Charter members also receive a gift certificate for the Criterion website, a membership card and concierge customer service, including a customer ID and special e-mail address.
The regular post-launch rate will be $10.99 per month or $100 per year.