Criterion & Hulu

 

 

 

The big news yesterday for cinema fans was that Criterion has joined forces with Hulu to provide streaming access to the entire collection and more… as long as you join HuluPlus, of course.

Positives of the move:

  • It’s only $7.99 a month. Considering how each physical copy of their films can range from $29.99 to $39.99 at retail. While it’s almost more difficult to get them at those prices than it is to get discounts on them (through Amazon, B&N, DeepDiscount, etc.), they’re still expensive, especially if you’re a poor college student.
  • Again, going into price… The price of physical copies are a lot for films that nine-out-of-ten times you probably haven’t seen before. The Hulu agreement allows you to see films before making the commitment of buying the film and having it for the rest of your life.
  • The initial 150 films include some that Criterion hasn’t even had the chance to release yet, including all the remaining Chaplin films and Alexander Korda productions.
  • No commercials!

Negatives:

  • It really stinks that most people are now OK with watching films on screens that keep getting smaller. I can’t imagine how terrible my life would be if my first viewing of Seven Samurai wasn’t in 1080p and on my 42″ TV, but rather in 720p and on my 15″ laptop.
  • Criterion might decide that films that they haven’t yet released can just be ‘dumped’ onto Hulu, slowing down their rate of new releases. I doubt this would happen, considering that it would be just plain stupid, but you never know.
  • Part of the announcement included that they would throw some supplements for each film up there, but they haven’t done that just yet. However, there is one type of supplement they probably could never include: commentaries. These are usually the best extras (sometimes the only extra) and I can’t see how Criterion could include them here.
  • You won’t get the packages. One of the reasons Criterion gets away with charging more than other companies is because of their commitment to design and on Hulu, the only thing we get to see is the film’s icon.
  • The Hulu watermark on the bottom corner of every shot in every film!

I haven’t decided if I’m going to do it. I personally am weary of spending any money on digital products because I don’t feel like I get anything for it. Call me old fashioned, but I like to spend money on something I can hold and share with everyone. This is a neat idea to get the Criterion name out there, but it misses some of what they are best known for.

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