FilmStruck will cease operations on Nov. 29 after two years in operation, Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks announced Friday. The move comes amid a strategic shift to mainstream direct-to-consumer entertainment services by WarnerMedia, which is now owned by AT&T.
The service hosted hundreds of classic, arthouse, indie and foreign films — many of them exclusively, including titles from the Criterion Collection catalog.
Jenkins, Oscar-winning director of “Moonlight,” initially tweeted a one-word, all-caps reaction to FilmStruck’s imminent closure: “F—.”
He followed with a more thoughtful post, saying about the FilmStruck team, “these were flesh and blood people who really, truly cared about the work they were doing and the people who made and appreciated film.”
Like… I went into @FilmStruck a little under the weather and before taping anything received a homemade fennel and pea shoot soup, like… these were flesh and blood people who really, truly cared about the work they were doing and the people who made and appreciated film 😢💔
— Barry Jenkins (@BarryJenkins) October 26, 2018
Del Toro, who won Oscars for “The Shape of Water” and “Pan’s Labyrinth,” sounded a more upbeat note: “We will find a way to bring it back- We will!”, he tweeted.
We will find a way to bring it back- We will! https://t.co/IiU243Kolb
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) October 26, 2018
Rian Johnson, whose directing credits include “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Looper,” mourned the service’s demise, tweeting, “FilmStruck was too good to last. I see it sadly floating away from the charred wasteland that is 2018, Lorax style.”
In a blog post Friday, the Criterion Collection team wrote about the imminent closure of FilmStruck, “Like many of you, we are disappointed by this decision,” adding that “we’ll be trying to find ways we can bring our library and original content back to the digital space as soon as possible.”
Writer and social-media strategist Michelle Buchman said on Twitter, “This is a horrible, sad blow to film culture. How are we supposed to bring up a new generation of filmmakers and creators when we are making our cinematic history as inaccessible as possible?!” She added that FilmStruck “actively took the time to highlight films made by women, people of color, minorities, and countries often not represented at all by other streaming services.”
Titles most recently available on FilmStruck include 1976’s “A Star Is Born” starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson (as well as the 1957 and 1937 versions), “Papillon,” “Love in the Time of Cholera,” “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “The Damned Don’t Cry.”
Earlier this year, FilmStruck added classic Warner Bros. films previously available on the Warner Archive service, whose subscribers were migrated to FilmStruck.
FilmStruck had cost $10.99 per month with access to the Criterion Collection library — it was the exclusive streaming home to the Criterion titles in the U.S. — and $6.99 per month without it.
In a statement about the shutdown, Turner and WB Digital Networks said, “While FilmStruck has a very loyal fanbase, it remains largely a niche service.” The companies said they 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.”
Other reactions to FilmStruck’s shutdown from fans, film writers and critics, and the service’s own staffers:
This is a bad day for film fans. FilmStruck offered films you won't find streaming elsewhere. I hate to hear this and also want to recognize everyone who worked so hard to create this platform. https://t.co/ivzjuzCxxt
— Jessica Pickens (JP) (@HollywoodComet) October 26, 2018
Terrible, terrible, terrible. The service barely got a chance to find its footing before the suits pulled the plug. https://t.co/Wl92NH9fmo
— J. Farran Le Fanu (@selfstyledsiren) October 26, 2018
This is very disappointing news. Here's hoping that the Criterion Channel finds a new home soon, and Warner Bros. finds a cultural conscience about making its library of old films–the largest and most significant in Hollywood–more easily available. https://t.co/gq0Vsksaqg
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) October 26, 2018
— Stephen Cone (@stephendcone) October 26, 2018
Every Sunday, I'd wake up early, make some tea, and watch a different noir film on @FilmStruck. It was one of my very favorite routines, and one that allowed me to see movies I might not have seen otherwise, like BORDER INCIDENT or THE NARROW MARGIN, both now favorites. pic.twitter.com/fYllrEg94i
— Kyle Vote But Make It Spooky Anderson (@KyleDAnderson) October 26, 2018