The Criterion Collection’s treasure trove of classic movies will have its own streaming home after the closure of FilmStruck, WarnerMedia said Friday.
New York-based Criterion Collection, which distributes classic movies such as Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” and François Truffaut’s “The 400 Blows,” will launch a free-standing online service called the Criterion Channel next spring to replace FilmStruck, which is closing Nov. 29.
The decision follows a widespread outcry among classic film fans and prominent directors over WarnerMedia’s sudden announcement last month that it would close the small but beloved 2-year-old service, which subscribers used to access foreign classics and art-house dramas that shaped the history of Hollywood.
FilmStruck’s demise sparked fears that important movies would have trouble finding a home in the increasingly fragmented streaming future. In addition to the Criterion movies, FilmStruck housed films from Warner Bros.’ vast studio archive.
A Change.org petition demanding WarnerMedia save FilmStruck garnered more than 50,000 signatures. Filmmakers including Guillermo del Toro, Barry Jenkins and Edgar Wright also increased pressure on the company to preserve the service in some fashion.
The new standalone Criterion Channel will charge subscribers $10.99 a month, or $100 for those who pay for a full year at once, according to the Criterion website. Those who sign up early will get a $1-a-month discount. Like FilmStruck, Criterion Channel will have its own supplemental programming for movie buffs, featuring cinema luminaries and behind-the-scenes footage.
Movies from the Criterion Channel also will become a part of WarnerMedia’s upcoming larger streaming service, which is expected to launch in late 2019, the companies said. WarnerMedia previously said Criterion movies would have a place on WarnerMedia’s digital offering that will also include shows and movies from HBO and Turner Networks, but it did not offer details on how the classics would be presented.
“Today’s announcement ensures that fans will have access to these films from the Criterion Collection as well as films from WarnerMedia’s deep and extensive library in what will be a rich and curated experience, which will further expand the audience footprint for these classic and acclaimed movies,” the firms said in a statement.
WarnerMedia’s decision to close Atlanta-based FilmStruck followed the demise of the company’s other small streaming services after the media giant was absorbed by Dallas-based mobile titan AT&T. Casualties included the eclectic digital studio Super Deluxe and the Korean online drama channel DramaFever.