Criterion Collection joins Hulu Plus. Hulu Plus suddenly much more interesting.

The Criterion Collection holds a kind of mystical allure for film geeks. Emerging out of the primordial mist of the Laserdisc era, Criterion quickly set the standard for overstuffed, gorgeously produced DVDs. Criterion had access to some of the greatest films ever — Ozu and Godard and Fellini, oh my! — and they had an unmatched capability for picking fantastic special features. (My personal favorite extra ever: The disc for The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie includes a short video in which Luis Bunuel teaches you how to mix a perfect martini.) So it’s hard to know what to make of the news that the Criterion Collection will be partnering with Hulu Plus, Hulu’s subscription service. According to a letter from Hulu’s senior vice president Eugene Wei, 150 Criterion titles are already available on Hulu (including The Seventh Seal, Black Orpheus, and Shoot the Piano Player), with more on their way. The news is definitely exciting, but does it devalue the Criterion brand to go full-digital like this? And, more to the point, will this actually convince people to subscribe to Hulu Plus?

In some ways, Criterion was the DVD era. The notion of Criterion moving online en masse feels like a watershed moment. (Online video quality isn’t up to HD standard yet, but it’s surely getting there.) Even if you’re skeptical, though, you have to give Hulu some credit — they know that advertisements are a huge turn-off for people. (Speaking as a Hulu Plus subscriber, it feels quite bizarre to pay for commercials.) Wei makes it clear that Criterion movies will run without commercial breaks. There will be ads up front, which will hopefully last just long enough for you to make yourself some popcorn. And the Criterion supplements will come to Hulu Plus eventually, too.

What do you think, PopWatchers? Are you coming around to Hulu Plus? Vote in the poll below, and talk about it in the comments. Also, has anyone actually made the Bunuel martini?

Comments (17 total) Add your comment
  • Bob

    I”ll continue to support them by buying the Blu-Rays, not this nonsense.

    • Nick

      Totally. I’d much rather give them $40 for one Criterion movie than be forced to have access to ALL OF THEM for $8 a month. Nonsense, indeed.

    • Nick T

      Same. And BTW, guy above, 40 is list price just like most blu rays. You can get them most places at 25 which is more than worth all that Criterion gives

  • barock

    Can you hear the commentaries? If not, the hell with it.

  • banana

    Hulu Plus makes BK sense. I subscribed for 2 months, then realized I was paying for commercials.

    • Tarc

      Wow, I didn’t quite understand that from the article. Since the commericals they are showing in theaters are the worst part of the experience – and they make me angry enough (after paying $10+ for a single viewing) that I literally see fewer films and wait for the DVD more often. Or better, Netflix. I’ve simpy come to hate the stupid, manipulative, inaccurate-or-downright-lying commercials today. Even looking at them as their own artform, they’re bad. Ugh.

  • Maddi

    I love the idea of Criteron movies on streaming, but if I’m paying there better not be ads.

  • Westley

    Most of these movies are already available on Netflix instant watch anyway.

    • James

      Exactly, Westley. Glad someone pointed that out.

  • Laura

    I love Criterion, but Hulu hates Canadians, so I can’t take part. Thus, I will have to continue to purchase and/or rent when I can.

  • Tee

    Still not worth it, especially with the ads.

  • Mel Grell

    Is this an article or a marketing poll? Where is Netflix in all of this – as one commentor mentioned they have the Criterion Collection on DVC and streaming — Whats the read deal here?? I also read that Netflix is losing (or are they giving up) Criterion…..

  • Jo

    I don’t mind the brief commercials on HuluPlus, just because I figure that in paying for cable, I’ve been paying to watch commercials for years. At least HuluPlus has shorter commercial breaks.

    But right now, I subscribe to Netflix and am in my trial week on HuluPlus, without any other access to TV. Given the choice, I’d watch the movies on Netflix without commercials, but … well, we’ll see.

  • jan svankmajer

    The Criterion films will not be interrupted by commercials on Hulu Plus. Says so right in the announcement on Hulu’s blog.

  • yo

    If I may quote from Hulu’s blog post: “… Hulu Plus subscribers will be able to watch the Criterion Collection free of interruption. (Any ads will play up front.) …”

    (For non-subscribers: The announcement also noted that each month “a few” Criterion films will be available for free viewing, with ad breaks.)

  • Rich

    Obviously Criterion is going exclusive to Hulu Plus while thumbing their noses at the large number of their customers that pay for Netflix already. It’s simply a money grab, with GE, Disney and the rest paying for that exclusivity.

  • alan

    i like commercials
    then i like my finger nails pulled out too.

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