The initial news of FilmStruck, a collaboration between Turner and Criterion, was met with a sigh. As part of the development of the new streaming channel Criterion would be ending their relationship with Hulu and Hulu Plus subscribers would be losing over 500 films currently available exclusively through Criterion.
This was a big deal. Criterion, and its parent company, Janus Films, hold the US rights to some of the most important films in cinematic history. A whole swath of Sight and Sound’s 50 Greatest Films of All Time are in Criterion’s catalogue, as well as a whole glut of other incredible films that are otherwise available only via very expensive (if pretty) Blu-Ray.
Now, if you want those films you’ll have to subscribe to FilmStruck’s service (pricing is currently unavailable).
But what’s more intriguing than the loss of Criterion films at Hulu is the arrival of TCM’s library online. Currently TCM holds the rights to what could be one of the largest libraries of pre-1986 films out there. Besides outright owning the rights to MGM’s entire back catalogue (Ted Turner snapped it up in the 80s), Turner also owns the rights to the whole RKO catalogue (including every single film Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made together and the Simon Templar series), United Artists’ catalogue (including The Great Dictator), and Warner Brother’s entire pre-1950s catalogue.
That’s a lot of really fantastic movies that haven’t seen the light of day unless you’ve invested in some overpriced DVDs, a VHS player, or cable.
While TCM hasn’t commented on which parts of the library will be seeing the tubes of the internet, they have confirmed that part of the Warner Brothers catalogue will be available, and that the partnership isn’t just with Criterion but also Flicker Alley, Icarus, Kino, Milestone, and Zeitgeist.
For the people that didn’t just squeal in joy at the sight of all those names—those are some of the biggest boutique DVD distributors around currently and they hold the rights to some fun foreign films and silent films.
So yeah, be bummed that Hulu is losing Criterion. But if you’re a film lover, you can’t be bummed for long. On the classic cinema front, Netflix is about to get stomped.