The Entire Criterion Collection Is Coming to Hulu Plus

Illustration for article titled The Entire Criterion Collection Is Coming to Hulu Plus

Good news for the handful of you that subscribe to Hulu Plus (and live in the U.S.): there are now over 150 pristinely-restored, culturally-important Criterion films now available on the subscription service, with over 800 titles—everything in Criterion's library—slated to appear exclusively on Hulu in the next few months. That's actually pretty damn incredible.

Illustration for article titled The Entire Criterion Collection Is Coming to Hulu Plus

The Criterion Collection, for those who aren't familiar, is an ever-expanding set of films both old and new, lovingly restored to the most pristine condition possible and presented with rich supplementary material. Basically: it's the best movies ever, presented in the best quality. The DVDs—gorgeous objects that they are—aren't cheap, and gaining access to masterpieces from cinematic luminaries like Kurosawa, Bergman, and Hitchcock to contemporary greats like Linklater, Fassbinder, and Cassavetes for just $8 a month is a staggering value. Just scroll through this list and let your eyes glaze over. Criterion says that supplementary materials will be coming to Hulu soon, and at this point, thanks to sponsors, all ads are up front so you can enjoy the movie without interruptions. It's sounding pretty sweet, and it might be just the content Hulu needs to stay relevant.

A year ago, say, when people were devouring episodes 30 Rock and the Daily Show like sumo wrestlers at an all you can eat buffet, Hulu seemed like an inevitably major player in the future of digital video. The prospect of a glorious, all-encompassing Hulu subscription service hung in the horizon. They had that funny superbowl commercial with Alec Baldwin. Times were good.

But since then Hulu's faltered a bit. Some favorite titles were yanked from the offerings. The subscription service was too expensive and not expansive enough. And all the while, Netflix doggedly expanded their Instant Watch library, quietly but significantly restructuring themselves as a streaming video powerhouse who also would mail you a DVD or Blu-ray if you wanted them to.


For people who love movies, though, the complete Criterion Collection is reason enough to reconsider Hulu. It's a gamble—it remains to be seen if the draw of some 800 cinematic masterpieces is enough to get people to join on—but in terms of bringing great works of art into the digital age, it's certainly an admirable start. [Criterion]


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But the big question is whether it includes the Criterion commentary tracks and DVD extras?

The only reason the Criterion Collection is valuable for me is for the intelligent commentary and extras found on the disks. Without them, it is "just" another movie. Take Kagemusha for is a fantastic film that stands on its own, but re-watching it with film historian Stephen Price's excellently researched commentary can add so many valuable layers that may be missed/under appreciated by viewers.

Essentially, Criterion commentary can help bring more casual movie viewers to appreciate the finer points of film. Hopefully those extras are included, or else it should not carry the "Criterion" label.