Criterion & Turner Classic Movies pair up for new streaming service, Filmstruck

So let me start off by saying that if you have any interest in the history of cinema in America and Hollywood, Karina Longworth’s amazing podcast You Must Remember This is undescribably essential. It might be the best single podcast in any format I’ve ever listened to. She’s enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and an incredible film historian, critic and researcher. She also tells a great story, with the perfect eye for detail. (As an example, in an episode on Liz Taylor she talks about how the young Ms. Taylor was perhaps the most beautiful actress of the 20th century, impossibly glamorous, supremely unattainable. Then, she tells how it was Elizabeth who held her best friend Montgomery Clift, gushing blood, in her arms after his horrific car wreck demolished his face. She tells how it was Taylor who reached down his throat to pull out his broken teeth to clear his airway while they waited for the ambulance. It’s an amazing juxtaposition that helps to humanize someone who seems so ephemeral these days).

The thing about listening to her podcast though is that it makes you (or at least me!) desperately eager to watch some of the films she talks about, even if they are Grandpa Movies in black and white (sorry Tom! ;)) And what sucks is that these are tough to find. Most aren’t on streaming services and are only available on VOD at various prices in that sometimes unsatisfactory business model.

So along comes Filmstruck! Recently announced, it’ll combine the film assets of Criterion with Turner Classic Movies (which has the MGM catalogue to 1986 and all Warner Brothers stuff now that they’re owned by Time Warner). That’s an amazing collection of films. The channel is also apparently going to feature specials that include interviews, commentary tracks and other stuff that Criterion and TCM have used to present their movies in the past as extras and whatnot.

No word on pricing yet, but it’s due to launch in the fall. I honestly can’t wait for this!

Ah. I was wondering where Criterion was going after the Hulu deal ended.

Yep, one consequence of this is that Criterion is pulling all their content off Hulu.

Bummer about Criterion leaving Hulu, that was a huge bonus. I may have to pony up for yet another streaming service.

I’m in. Don’t even have to see the catalog.

This might kill off Mubi, though.

If it’s affordable enough, I might jump on this as it sounds like a treasure trove.

Yeah, Mubi was another casualty I thought of when this was announced.

Still. I’m so into old MGM movies right now that I actually have an alert set on my phone for when Raintree County airs on TCM next month (No blu-ray, OOP DVD, so yeah…)

Oh indeed. TCM plays the deep cuts. This is really excellent news.

And Mubi may survive. They play stuff that’s too foreign and/or arty for even Criterion to touch. As long as they stay in their lane, they could be OK. They don’t really seem to be in it to get filthy rich anyway.

Not too happy about having to pay for another service to get the Criterion movies I used to get with Hulu. On the other hand, getting the other TCM stuff with it is probably worth a new subscription.

Just got my beta invite. Signed up.

I can’t speak to the UI or anything like that…


The movie selection is everything I thought it could be, and then some.

Well THAT’S encouraging. ;)

Right now it’s just 148 movies total, as they clearly want folks in the beta to be simply testing how playback, interface, etc. all work, as well as adding movies to personal lists and whatnot.

But those 148 movies are pretty amazing. Kurosawa, Cassavetes, Truffaut, etc.

Getting ready to stream a few to see how they look on the big screen with chromecast.


I don’t care if you don’t have one. SEND ME AN INVITE ANYWAY!

Also, how’d I miss this discussion? I’d sign up for this in a heartbeat. Sounds great.

I filled out their damn survey…WHERE IS MY BETA INVITE, FILMSTRUCK!?

I forgot to fill out their survey. Poo.

The beta is still limited in ways. I’m trying to figure out how to cast or stream to the tv, but they really don’t want you to chromecast it, because that functionality is specifically absent (movies play like a browser within a browser, even when you go full screen.)

But, it appears to be as HD quality as the source film work allows. Think at some point tonight I’ll watch one of the Red/White/Blue trilogy to see how a modern film shot in close to HD looks.

Criterion Collection invites actors & directors to highlight favorites (via)

Not in the playlist: Wim Wenders:

Others (in the playlist): Michael Cera, Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn, Guy Maddin, and Edgar Wright

So Filmstruck has a launch date: October 19. It also has pricing, and yikes. $5.99 for the base package monthly. $10.99 if you want the base + Criterion Channel add on. That seems…steep.

And right now, having been in the beta, I’m saying wait and see on this. My biggest beef with Filmstruck doesn’t appear to be resolved at launch: namely, unless you have an Apple TV or Fire Stick, you’re going to struggle to watch these movies on your TV. Filmstruck plays in its own browser, one that in beta didn’t support Chromecast. Same for iOS and Android: Filmstruck plays as an app, without Chromecast functionality.

I can understand how there are a bunch of different ways to stream movies to your big screen and it can be tough to be compatible with all of them, but Filmstruck seems to have made the determination to simply throttle that functionality as a matter of principle. Which kind of defeats the purpose. These are movies meant to be seen in HD on as large a screen as you can give them, not on your phone, tablet, or laptop.

Give this a hard pass at launch and see how it plays out.

Jeesh, that’s higher than I thought. Considering that I can stream all the month’s TCM movies with U-Verse already, this might be a pass.

I have an Amazon Fire TV box so I might be okay watching on that. I’ll have to think on the price.