Are you a cinephile who signed up with Hulu? Then you probably did so not because of the rando movies they have. It’s because they have the Criterion Collection. In 2011 the film giant with the deep catalog of classic and modern art film fare inked a deal to stream its content exclusively with the second-tier streaming giant. They gifted them not just with biggies already on disc but deep cuts — the wares of obscure Japanese directors from the ’50s, lesser-known Jacques Demy films, etc., etc. — that have never been released for sale.
But time destroys everything, and come fall Criterion will move on. Specifically they’ll take their toys and bring them over to Filmstruck, a new streaming platform designed for film lovers. The service didn’t only score Criterion. They’ll also have the wares of another giant, Turner Classic Movies, plus smaller (and just as vital) specialty labels like Flicker Alley, Icarus, Kino, Milestone and Zeitgeist. The content, the Filmstruck press release says, will be “comprehensive and constantly refreshed” (which hopefully doesn’t also mean titles will whimsically disappear). That makes Filmstruck a kind of Avengers for film nerds, with moviesranging from "A Hard Day's Night" to the Czech film "Daisies" to the first "Mad Max."
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A streaming service for movies — pretty nuts, right? You might be asking, “But isn’t that Netflix?” And yet eagle-eyed subscribers may have noticed Netflix has been slowly and possibly surely getting out of the movies game, freely losing contracts with multiple big license-holders like Epix in a move to create original content. “New on Netflix” updates have been increasingly depressing — that is, unless you were stoked when the most promising title announced for May was probably the 2005 Ryan Reynolds vehicle “Just Friends.”
Still, this shift has been roundly hailed as a smart business move. Patrons know they can’t get “Orange is the New Black” or “Master of None” or untold comedy specials anywhere else, and there just isn’t enough time in one’s day to get to the mere 20-or-so movies predating 1960 that presently take up space in the magma of Netflix’s outer regions.
And so hardcore movie fans will get their digs — and much more besides — on Filmstruck. That is, in addition to keeping Netflix for their TV shows (if perhaps not their movies — “The Ridiculous 6,” anyone?). And that’s on top of maybe keeping Hulu for their TV shows. And Amazon Prime, too, perhaps, because they have the second season of “Rick and Morty.” And perhaps the indie site Fandor. And Mubi, too. What does this all add up to on our monthly bill? Wasn’t the whole idea of the streaming revolution that it costs less than crappy cable TV? The glory days, perhaps they are over.
But seriously, Filmstruck sounds great for the handful of us who still think movies — especially old and/or off-the-beaten-path movies — are rad. Sign us up in half a year. The preliminary site, with a cool "trailer," can be found here.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge