Monday, February 21, 2011

Kid in a Candy Store: Criterion Comes to Hulu Plus

Hulu Plus and Criterion
I'm a few days late to the party, but I just discovered that quite a number of the films that are part of The Criterion Collection are available for those who have Hulu's subscription service, Hulu Plus. I've been hoping for something this "big" since subscribing to Hulu Plus. Before this, my most common complaint about Hulu Plus' service was its mediocre film selection. Films I'd never heard of not simply because they're obscure, but because they just weren't that good.

Due to this agreement, a select few films are available for free for regular Hulu users, and a library of over 100 films is available for Hulu Plus subscribers. In a surprising move, the films are now no longer available on Netflix's streaming service. I'm not sure if I've ever heard of an entire company pulling out of an agreement with Netflix before, so this is pretty big.

What makes me most happy about this move was after reading this on Hulu's blog:

For Criterion, thanks to our advertising partners, Hulu Plus subscribers will be able to watch the Criterion Collection free of interruption. (Any ads will play up front.) For those who don’t have a Hulu Plus subscription, each month we’ll still rotate a few Criterion titles through with our normal periodic ad breaks.
The Criterion Collection was originally set up by Janus Films and the Voyager Company in the 1980s. They were pioneers in releasing films as they were meant to be seen. Under this label, films were restored and released in their correct aspect ratio, likely to the annoyance of those people that "didn't like the bars on the tops and bottoms of the screen." Criterion was also the first company to ever release a film with a commentary soundtrack, all the way back in 1984. They did what no other company would even consider doing then, and what every company is virtually required to do for a movie's release today.

I certainly don't consider Criterion as the sacred cow some seem to consider it, they did a great job when no other film company cared. They were pioneers. However, they've had a few questionable choices of films chosen over the last few years (Armageddon and practically anything Wes Anderson put his name on?), and some of their uber-expensive releases seem superfluous in this day and age.

With that said, I will treasure this news and these films.

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