Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection are partnering on a new streaming film service, Criterion president Peter Becker announced on its website today. It’s hard to imagine a better partnership—both Turner Classic Movies and Criterion have done exemplary jobs of selecting a good mix of already-beloved films, films ripe for rediscovery, rarities, and oddities. The new service will be called FilmStruck, and will launch in November “on desktop and mobile devices, and internet-connected television platforms,” although specific devices (and prices) haven’t yet been announced. Here’s how Becker describes it:
A service built from the start with nothing but movies in mind, it will feature films from many major studios and independent distributors alongside a broad and constantly rotating selection of Criterion films, complete with the commentaries and rich supplemental content that Criterion viewers have come to expect. Carefully curated and always changing, it should be a cinema lover’s dream.
Including Criterion’s extras and commentary tracks is a huge step forward—Criterion titles are currently available via Hulu but with none of the carefully assembled supplemental content that’s one of the big draws with their DVDs and Blu-rays. (Criterion’s films will leave Hulu after November, when the new service launches.) A FilmStruck subscription will give access to about 500 films, not only from Criterion but from other premium home video companies like Flicker Alley and Kino, Becker explained in an interview with Indiewire. As a premium add-on, FilmStruck subscribers will be able to access the Criterion Channel inside of the service, which will eventually include another 1,000 Criterion films. The real attraction, however, is the expert programming Criterion and TCM will be able to provide, especially since FilmStruck won’t be at the mercy of the logistics of selling physical media, as Becker explained:
It gives us a chance for the first time to be able to program across filmographies, genres, decades, and national cinemas to be able to tell the stories that we haven’t been able to tell on a film-by-film basis as we release one DVD or another.
Criterion isn’t giving up the DVD/Blu-ray market any more than TCM is leaving cable, but the more ways viewers can access great films, the better. In the meantime, there’s always Netflix’s Oscillating Fan for Your Home.