The corporate cousins reached a deal to stock Turner’s FilmStruck with more than 600 classic Hollywood films each month from the Warner Bros. library. At the same time, WB’s Warner Archive subscription-streaming service — launched in 2013 — will be shut down, and current customers will be migrated over to FilmStruck over the next few weeks.
Titles in Warner Bros.’ catalog coming to FilmStruck include many that have never been available on a subscription video-on-demand platform. Those include “Casablanca,” “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Singin’ In the Rain,” “Citizen Kane,” “The Music Man,” “Bringing Up Baby,” “The Thin Man,” “Cat People,” “A Night At The Opera,” “An American In Paris” and “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?”
“It was a pretty easy decision” to shutter Warner Archive and add WB’s movie catalog to FilmStruck, said Craig Hunegs, president of Warner Bros. Digital Networks and president of business and strategy for Warner Bros. Television Group.
“We had a decision to make on Warner Archive. We were going to go bigger, add more films, and invest in improving the user experience,” Hunegs said. “But after sitting down and looking at it, rather than having two overlapping services going after the same audience, we decided to combine them.”
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With the addition of WB’s films, FilmStruck lineup will expand to more than 1,800 movies per month, up from around 1,200 when it first launched. The companies declined to reveal how many subscribers FilmStruck or Warner Archive have signed up, but Hunegs said that FilmStruck — which bowed in late 2016 — had many times more subs.
The No. 1 request from FilmStruck users was to have access to classic Hollywood films, in addition to the lineup of art house, indie, foreign and cult films on the service, according to execs. FilmStruck is managed under Turner’s Turner Classic Movies division. Pricing of FilmStruck, which starts at $6.99 per month, will remain unchanged.
“We never really thought about raising the price. We never went down the path of, ‘How do we make more money?'” said Coleman Breland, president of Turner Classic Movies, FilmStruck and Turner Content Experiences. The goal was to super-serve film aficionados, and now FilmStruck has what he touted as “the deepest streaming roster on the planet in terms of indies and classics.”
Also under the Turner-Warner Bros. Digital Networks partnership, each month FilmStruck will feature the Warner Bros. classics in a curated collection of about two dozen films. The feature, called TCM Select, will include introductions by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz produced exclusively for FilmStruck, along with rare archival content and bonus material.
In addition, FilmStruck will introduce new curated themes around WB’s Hollywood classics such as “Rogers & Astaire: The Complete Collection,” “Neo-Noir,” and a “Star of the Week” theme featuring titles with Bette Davis, Hepburn and Tracy, Ava Gardner and others.
FilmStruck in the U.S. includes exclusive access to the Criterion Collection of films, which are available to subscribers of the $10.99 monthly (or $99 annually) package. The service has films licensed from major studios — Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. — as well as indie distributors including Janus Films, Flicker Alley, Icarus Films, Kino, Milestone, Zeitgeist, Film Movement, Global Lens, First Run Features, Oscilloscope Laboratories and Shout Factory.
Hunegs noted that Warner Archive subscribers will be gaining access to a lower-priced streaming service (Warner Archive had been $9.99 per month) with a much bigger bucket of movies. “Warner Archive was an early play in creating a streaming service,” he said. “We were learning as we went… but I don’t think we quite got it right.”
Time Warner now has several direct-to-consumer streaming plays, including HBO Now, Turner’s Boomerang cartoon service, DramaFever, and the forthcoming DC Entertainment service. It also has launched FilmStruck in the U.K. and plans to expand FilmStruck to other countries; the international versions will also roll in the Warner Bros. classic films.
But will the bulked-up FilmStruck over-the-top service peel viewers away from the TCM linear cable channel? Breland doesn’t think so. About 80% of the audience for Turner Classic Movies is 55-plus, whereas FilmStruck’s target demo is 25-44, he said.
“The TCM brand has value, and the exclusive [TCM Select] content makes [FilmStruck] an experience that feels a little like TCM, but I don’t think it lowers the value” of the linear network, Breland said. He added that Turner is contemplating offering a multiplex of TCM channels to pay-TV operators, grouped around themes like Westerns or comedies.
FilmStruck is available on Roku, Google’s Chromecast, fourth-generation Apple TV devices, Amazon Fire TV, the web, and iOS and Android devices.