The Passion of Joan of Arc, Breathless, Rashomon, Lawrence of Arabia — so many of the greatest films of all-time, including the entire (and very essential) Criterion Collection, are available on FilmStruck. Or, I should say, were available. Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks announced on Friday that the classic movie streaming service is “ceasing operations” on November 29.
“We’re incredibly proud of the creativity and innovations produced by the talented and dedicated teams who worked on FilmStruck over the past two years,” the companies said in a statement. “While FilmStruck has a very loyal fanbase, it remains largely a niche service. We plan to take key learnings from FilmStruck to help shape future business decisions in the direct-to-consumer space and redirect this investment back into our collective portfolios.”
Netflix has a deep bench of great TV shows, and there’s an admirable effort to increase the quality of its in-house distribution titles (it’s now Adam Sandler and Roma, as opposed to just Adam Sandler), but the service’s reserve of classic films is lacking, to say the least. The “Classics” section includes Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and, uh, Benji. As the true replacement to the independent video store, FilmStruck was a movie lover’s dream, a place that “was born from a pure desire to support arthouse cinema,” as author Alicia Malone put it.
After the announcement broke, the Criterion Collection wrote that “we’ll be trying to find ways we can bring our library and original content back to the digital space as soon as possible.” Just think of how many films Netflix could have picked up with the $39 million it wasted on Kevin Spacey.