On the heels of the news that FilmStruck, the movie-streaming subscription service aimed at cinephiles, will be ceasing at the end of November, Criterion Collection announced a new deal with WarnerMedia to launch a separate streaming service in 2019.
FilmStruck, operated by Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks, has been the exclusive U.S. home for Criterion’s catalog of critically acclaimed contemporary and classic films. FilmStruck is ending operations effective Nov. 29.
In the spring of 2019, Criterion Channel will launch as a standalone service, which “will be a rich and curated experience,” WarnerMedia and Criterion said.
In addition, Criterion’s film collection will be part of WarnerMedia’s broad direct-to-consumer streaming service slated to launch in the fourth quarter of 2019, which will include content from HBO, Warner Bros., Turner, and potentially third-party sources. The WarnerMedia-wide subscription VOD service will launch initially in the U.S.
“The Criterion Channel will be picking up where FilmStruck left off, with thematic programming, regular filmmaker spotlights, and actor retrospectives, featuring major classics and hard-to-find discoveries from Hollywood and around the world,” the companies said.
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The decision to shut down FilmStruck prompted a backlash among film buffs as well as Hollywood directors and actors. Barbra Streisand and Guillermo del Toro were among more than 40,000 people who signed a petition to save FilmStruck.
The Criterion Channel will be regularly priced at $10.99 per month or $100 for an annual subscription. Charter subscribers to the SVOD service are being offered a special discounted rate of $9.99 per month or $89.99 per year; consumers who sign up pre-launch at criterion.com/channel also will receive other perks including a 30-day free trial and a gift certificate to purchase films on Criterion’s website.
FilmStruck also had cost $10.99 monthly with access to the Criterion Collection library (and $6.99 monthly without it).
In announcing their decision last month to shutter FilmStruck, Turner and WB Digital Networks said in part, “While FilmStruck has a very loyal fanbase, it remains largely a niche service. We plan to take key learnings from FilmStruck to help shape future business decisions in the direct-to-consumer space and redirect this investment back into our collective portfolios.”
Here’s the full joint statement from Criterion Collection and WarnerMedia:
The Criterion Collection and WarnerMedia announced today a new chapter for the beloved collection of Criterion films. In the Spring of 2019, through a special arrangement with WarnerMedia, the Criterion Channel will launch as a free-standing streaming service. Additionally, the popular library of films will be part of WarnerMedia’s recently announced direct-to-consumer platform that is planned to launch in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Today’s announcement ensures that fans will have access to these films from the Criterion Collection as well as films from WarnerMedia’s deep and extensive library in what will be a rich and curated experience, which will further expand the audience footprint for these classic and acclaimed movies.
The Criterion Channel will be picking up where FilmStruck left off, with thematic programming, regular filmmaker spotlights, and actor retrospectives, featuring major classics and hard-to-find discoveries from Hollywood and around the world, complete with special features like commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage and original documentaries. The Criterion Channel will continue to produce their guest programmer series, “Adventures in Moviegoing,” which has already featured such cinephile luminaries 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.