Turner is set to launch FilmStruck — its first subscription video-on-demand service, stocked with hundreds of arthouse, indie, foreign and cult films along with a host of additional related content — on Oct. 19.
FilmStruck, which Turner execs have said is an opportunity to test out the direct-to-consumer SVOD segement, is developed and managed by Turner Classic Movies (TCM) in collaboration with the Criterion Collection.
FilmStruck will be available only in the U.S. initially. It will have three pricing tiers: the entry-level service is $6.99 per month; FilmStruck + The Criterion Channel is $10.99 monthly, offering everything in the base FilmStruck subscription plan plus unlimited access to Criterion’s entire streaming library of films and special features, along with exclusive original programming; and an annual subscription of $99 per year for FilmStruck + The Criterion Channel.
FilmStruck’s rotating selection includes films from such indie studios as Janus Films, Flicker Alley, Icarus Films, Kino, Milestone, Zeitgeist, Film Movement, Global Lens, First Run Features, Oscilloscope Laboratories and Shout Factory, along with movies from major studios including Warner Bros. and MGM.
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“By combining the expertise at TCM and the Criterion Collection – two of the leading authorities in film preservation and history – we have created something really special that is a must-have for passionate film lovers,” said Jennifer Dorian, general manager of TCM and FilmStruck.
Turner commissioned a research study of 2,000 film fans across the U.S., conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates, and drew from that an estimate that there are 15 million people 18-49 in the States who would be interested in a service like FilmStruck.
“This is a high-value item for people whose hobby is film,” Dorian said. “They’re already spending money on entertainment and this is something they would want to add.” FilmStruck also has the potential to be “very giftable,” she said, with Turner betting that people will purchase the $99 annual package for friends or family who love the indie-arthouse genre. The FilmStruck marketing plan includes in-theater advertising, as well as targeted print and digital ads.
Turner’s launch of FilmStruck is part of the Time Warner-owned cable programmer’s bid to grow revenue in new digital avenues, as the pay-TV business is expected to continue shrinking in the years ahead.
The challenge for FilmStruck will be to capture share of consumers’ wallets against a myriad of other SVOD offerings in the market, including mainstream players like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, as well as more directly competitive services tailored to film buffs, including Fandor and Tribeca Shortlist, a joint venture of Lionsgate and Tribeca Enterprises.
Titles to be featured on FilmStruck include “Babette’s Feast,” “Blood Simple,” “Blow-Up,” “Breaker Morant,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Mad Max,” “Metropolis,” “Moulin Rouge,” “My Life as a Dog,” “Paths of Glory,” “The Player,” “A Room with a View,” “Seven Samurai,” “The Seventh Seal,” “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” “Stardust Memories,” “The Trip to Bountiful,” “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” and “Woodstock.”
In addition, beginning Nov. 11, FilmStruck will become the exclusive streaming home to The Criterion Channel, offering what the companies say is the largest streaming collection of Criterion films available, including classic and contemporary films from around the world, interviews and conversations with filmmakers and never-before-seen programming. With the FilmStruck deal, Criterion films are rolling off Hulu, which had been the exclusive streaming partner for Criterion’s library in the U.S. since 2011.
FilmStruck will be available on the web, Android and iOS devices, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, with additional platforms and devices coming in the future. As with Netflix, Hulu and other services, FilmStruck offers only video streaming (with no downloads for offline viewing).
The FilmStruck service will feature over 70 curated and constantly refreshed programming themes, along with exclusive bonus content like hosted introductions, originally produced pieces, interviews and rare footage.
Themes include: “The Beauty of Italy”; “Cinema Passport,” showcasing titles from countries with a rich film history and culture; films directed by Mike Leigh and early works by Stanley Kubrick; “The Masters,” a monthly director-focused collection that will initially include films by Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut, Fritz Lang and Chantal Akerman; and “Panic Room,” a monthly collection of cult and indie horror film hosted by actor-comedian Lucky Yates.
Additionally, FilmStruck will offer cinephiles exclusive bonus content such as archival footage and newly produced pieces, including mini-documentaries and “Point of View (POV)” with celebrities and experts offering retrospectives on the various franchises and themes each month.
Some of FilmStruck’s titles will have closed-captioning available at launch; Turner plans to have closed-captioning on most titles by the end of 2016.