|Type||Privately held company|
|Industry||Motion picture video production|
|Headquarters||New York City, New York, U.S.|
|United Kingdom (Europe)|
United States, Canada (North America)
|Jonathan B. Turell (CEO) |
Peter Becker (President)
|Products|| LaserDisc (1984–99)|
VHS and Betamax (1985, 1989)
Ultra HD Blu-ray (2021–present)
VOD (select titles) (2008–present)
Criterion Channel (2019–present)
HBO Max (2020–present)
|Owner||The Voyager Company (1985–97)|
Number of employees
|Divisions|| Eclipse from the Criterion Collection |
Essential Art House from Janus Films
The Criterion Collection, Inc. (or simply Criterion) is an American home video distribution company that focuses on licensing, restoring, and distributing "important classic and contemporary films". Criterion serves film and media scholars, cinephiles,as well as public and academic libraries. Criterion has helped to standardize characteristics of home video such as film restoration, using the Letterboxing format for widescreen films, and adding bonus features as well as scholarly essays and commentary tracks. Criterion has produced and distributed more than 1,000 special editions of its films in VHS, Betamax, LaserDisc, DVD, Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray formats and box sets. These films and their special features are also available via an online streaming service that the company operates.
The company was founded in 1984 by Robert Stein, Aleen Stein, and Joe Medjuck, who later were joined by Roger Smith. In 1985, the Steins, William Becker, and Jonathan B. Turell founded the Voyager Company,to publish educational multimedia CD-ROMs (1989–2000), during which time the Criterion Collection became a subordinate division of the Voyager Company. In March 1994, Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH bought 20% of Voyager for US$6.7 million; the four founders each retained a 20% owner's share.
In 1997, the Voyager Company was dissolved (Aleen Stein founded the Organa LLC CD-ROM publishing company), and Holtzbrinck Publishers sold the "Voyager" brand name, 42 CD-ROM titles, the Voyager web site, and associated assets, to Learn Technologies Interactive, LLC (LTI).Robert Stein sold 42 Voyager titles to LTI from his Voyager–Criterion company share. The remaining three partners, Aleen Stein, William Becker (President) and Jonathan Turell (CEO) owned the Criterion Collection company, which has a business partnership with Janus Films, and had one with Home Vision Entertainment (HVE) until 2005, when Image Entertainment bought HVE. On November 4, 2013, it was announced that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment would handle distribution.
In 1986, Charles Benton founded Home Vision Entertainment (HVE), the home-video division of Public Media Inc. (PMI), which he had previously founded in 1968. The HVE company sold, advertised, marketed, and distributed Criterion Collection DVDs, and also sold its own HVE brand of DVDs (co-produced with Criterion), including The Merchant Ivory Collection,and the Classic Collection, a joint venture between Home Vision Entertainment and Janus Films. The latter enterprise published HVE imprint films, for which Janus Films owned the video rights, but which were unavailable from the Criterion Collection; however, Criterion published the Classic Collection films. In 2005, Image Entertainment bought HVE, thus it became the exclusive distributor of Criterion Collection products until 2013.
The Criterion Collection began to provide video on demand (VOD) in partnership with MUBI (formerly The Auteurs) in 2008. In February 2011, Criterion began switching its VOD offerings exclusively to Hulu Plus.In November 2016, FilmStruck, a film streaming service from Turner Classic Movies, succeeded Hulu as the exclusive streaming service for the Criterion Collection. Some Criterion films were streamed by Kanopy. On October 26, 2018, Warner Bros. Digital Networks and Turner announced that FilmStruck would be shutting down on November 29. Criterion stated in a blog post that they were "trying to find ways we can bring our library and original content back to the digital space as soon as possible."
On November 16, 2018, Criterion announced that they would be launching the Criterion Channel as a standalone service, wholly owned and operated by the Criterion Collection, beginning in the United States and Canada, then hopefully elsewhere. Some of the VOD service's offerings are also available through HBO Max, WarnerMedia's streaming platform as of May 27,2020 [update] .
Criterion also maintains a YouTube channel with which it markets its films. One notable feature is the "Three Reasons" playlist it has produced in which the company overlays in a few words or phrases three reasons that the film is worth watching or has entered the Criterion catalogue.In response YouTube users offer their own "Three Reasons" to promote nominations. No "Three Reasons" video has been released by Criterion since June 30, 2015.
British film magazine Sight & Sound revealed in their April 2016 issue that Criterion would be expanding its releases to the United Kingdom.The first six titles were released on April 18, 2016.
The Criterion Collection video company pioneered the correct aspect ratio letterboxing presentation of movies, as well as commentary soundtracks, multi-disc sets, special editions, and definitive versions. These ideas and the special features introduced by the Criterion Collection have been highly influential, and have become industry-wide standards for premium home video releases.
With its eighth LaserDisc release, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Criterion introduced the letterbox format, which added black bars to the top and bottom of the 4:3 standard television set in order to preserve the original aspect ratio of the film.Thereafter, Criterion made letterboxing the standard presentation for all its releases of films shot in widescreen aspect ratios.
The Criterion Collection's second catalog title, King Kong (1933), was the debut of the scene-specific audio commentarycontained in a separate analog channel of the LaserDisc. It featured US film historian Ronald Haver reporting about the production, cast, screenplay, production design and special effects. He is also the commentator for the LaserDisc editions of Casablanca (1942), Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), Singin' in the Rain (1952), and The Wizard of Oz (1939). Typically, the chapter-indexed commentaries are exclusive to the Criterion releases and their initial DVD reissues; they became collector's items when the original-owner studios re-issued titles previously licensed to Criterion (with newly produced commentary tracks or not).
The Criterion Collection began in 1984 with the releases of Citizen Kane (1941) and King Kong (1933) on LaserDisc, the latter's source negatives courtesy of the Library of Congress.The company later became known for pioneering the "special edition" DVD concept, containing bonus materials (trailers, commentaries, documentaries, alternate endings, deleted scenes, et cetera), "a film school in a box", as it were, the success of which established the special edition version in the DVD business. In 2006, taking advantage of better film-transfer and film-restoration technologies, Criterion published improved-image versions, with bonus materials, of early catalog titles such as Amarcord (1973), Brazil (1985), and Seven Samurai (1954).
Originally, the Criterion company released art, genre, and mainstream movies on LaserDisc such as Halloween (1978), Ghostbusters (1984), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), Armageddon (1998), and The Rock (1996). Increasingly, the Criterion Collection has also focused on releasing world cinema, mainstream cinema classics, and critically successful obscure movies. Using the best available source materials, the company produced technologically improved and cleaner versions. For example, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), M (1931), Children of Paradise (1945), The Third Man (1949), Seven Samurai (1954), and Amarcord (1973) discs contain film-cleaning and film-restoration demonstrations, comparing the restored and un-restored images.
Some previously licensed Criterion Collection titles, such as The Harder They Come (1972), are now commercially unavailable as new product, and are only available in resale (used) form. Titles such as RoboCop (1987), Hard Boiled (1992), The Killer (1989), and Ran (1985), became unavailable when their publishing licenses expired, or when Criterion published improved versions, such as Beauty and the Beast (1946), M (1931), The Wages of Fear (1953), and Seven Samurai (1954). As of September 2018, 188 of the 954 titles (19%) from the list of Criterion Collection LaserDisc releases have been re-released.
Another example is the film Charade (1963), which had become a public-domain property for lacking the legally required copyright notice. The Criterion company produced a restored edition under license from Universal Pictures for the initial edition, and for the later anamorphic widescreen re-release edition of the film.
Periodically, Criterion does release material on DVD/Blu-ray licensed from the studios they previously dealt with (e.g., Universal and Terry Gilliam's 1985 film Brazil ); these new releases are generally done on a case-by-case basis.
The Criterion Collection began publishing LaserDiscs on December 1, 1984 with its release of Citizen Kane . Three of their early titles (spine #003–005) were also issued on VHS and at least the last of them also appeared on Betamax.These were Criterion's only releases on those formats. In 1998, Criterion began publishing DVDs as well. On March 16, 1999, Criterion issued its final LaserDisc release, Michael Bay's Armageddon . As with its laserdiscs, Criterion's early DVD editions of widescreen films were presented in the letterbox format, but Criterion did not anamorphically enhance its discs for 16:9 monitors until mid-1999 with its release of Insomnia (1997), catalog number 47.
Criterion was slow to expand into high-definition releases, partly due to the HD format wars between Blu-ray and HD DVD.Once Blu-ray had emerged as the industry-standard high-definition home video format, Criterion expanded into releasing Blu-ray editions of select films from its collection, beginning with the Blu-ray release of Wong Kar-wai's Chungking Express (#453; currently out of print) on December 16, 2008. In late 2013, Criterion announced that with the November release of the Zatoichi boxset (spine #679), all their releases would be in dual format (DVD and Blu-ray packaged together) rather than individual releases. This decision also applied to most upgrade re-releases introduced after November 2013. After customer feedback revealed some reluctance to this approach, All That Jazz (#724) became the last chronological spine number released as a dual format edition, and the decision was reversed to release separate discs for titles in and after September 2014.
Despite the emergence of Blu-ray as the industry-standard high-definition format, Janus/Criterion remain committed to supporting the DVD format. Not only are all their new Blu-ray releases accompanied by a standard-definition DVD version, but revised and upgraded releases are also released on both formats (barring the brief foray into dual-format releases). Moreover, the company's stand-alone line of Eclipse releases are currently only made available in the standard DVD format.
Aside from the core catalog, the company has also released films through its Essential Art House, Eclipse, and Merchant Ivory Collection lines, as well as a few releases outside of any product line. Many of these releases have also been collected and sold in various box sets.
In April 2016 for the first time in its history, Criterion announced it would begin releasing their catalogue outside of the U.S. (earlier international Criterion titles like the Japanese LaserDisc of Blade Runner were licensed to other companies). In partnership with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, releases began to be distributed with the launch of six titles in the UK during the month.
The company has also expanded into online distribution, through online video on demand rental services, first in partnership with MUBI (formerly known as The Auteurs), then Hulu. Criterion's Hulu Plus subscription channel also offered titles for streaming as-yet unreleased on DVD/Blu-ray, including dozens of the Janus-owned films produced by London Films. In November 2016, Criterion ended its deal with Hulu, and partnered with Turner Classic Movies to launch a dedicated streaming service called FilmStruck.After two years, TCM parent company WarnerMedia restructured its streaming offerings, and it was announced that the future online home for Criterion's films would be a dedicated channel. The Criterion Channel launched on April 8, 2019 and offers subscribers access to both 'complete' releases from the collection, specially-produced supplementary programming and other films controlled by Janus/Voyager, alongside limited engagements of select films from other companies, particularly Warner/TCM. Criterion Collection content is also accessible via the library VOD service Kanopy.
Criterion began publishing titles on Blu-ray Disc in December 2008.Unlike its DVD releases, which are a mixture of NTSC-standard Region 0 (region-free) and Region 1 DVDs, Criterion Collection Blu-ray Discs are Region A locked in North America or Region B locked in the United Kingdom (though there are exceptions ).
On August 11, 2021, Criterion announced that they would begin publishing titles on Ultra HD Blu-ray in November 2021. All Criterion Ultra HD Blu-ray releases will include both a Ultra HD Blu-ray copy and a regular Blu-ray copy of a film (with all the special features on the regular Blu-ray), with select releases including Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos. Their first releases were announced as Citizen Kane (returning to the collection for the first time since 1992), Mulholland Drive , Menace II Society , The Red Shoes , A Hard Day’s Night , and The Piano , with the first three titles being confirmed to release in November 2021 on August 16.Later that month, Uncut Gems , which was previously announced to release on Blu-ray and DVD in October 2021, was delayed into November in order to also give the film an Ultra HD Blu-ray release.
Eclipse is a line started in 2007 separate from the Criterion Collection. It is described by Criterion as "a selection of lost, forgotten, or overshadowed classics in simple, affordable editions".
The LaserDisc (LD) is a home video format and the first commercial optical disc storage medium, initially licensed, sold and marketed as MCA DiscoVision in the United States in 1978. Unlike most optical disc standards, LaserDisc is not fully digital and instead requires the use of analog video signals.
Janus Films is an American film distribution company. The distributor is credited with introducing numerous films, now considered masterpieces of world cinema, to American audiences, including the films of Michelangelo Antonioni, Sergei Eisenstein, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, François Truffaut, Yasujirō Ozu and many other well-regarded directors. Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957) was the film responsible for the company's initial growth.
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Windows Media High Definition Video is the marketing name for high definition videos encoded using Microsoft Windows Media Video 9 codecs. These low-complexity codecs make it possible to watch high definition movies in 1280×720 (720p) or 1920×1080 (1080p) resolutions on many modern personal computers running Microsoft Windows XP or Windows Vista, although the hardware requirements are steep. Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 video game consoles can also play WMV HD.
The Voyager Company was a pioneer in CD-ROM production in the 1980s and early 1990s. The company published The Criterion Collection, a pioneering home video collection of classic and important contemporary films on LaserDisc. It was founded in 1984 by four partners: Jon Turell, Bill Becker, Aleen Stein, and Robert Stein in Santa Monica, California, and later moved to New York City. The firm took its name from the Voyager space craft.
La Chienne is a 1931 French film by director Jean Renoir. It is the second sound film by the director and the twelfth film of his career. The literal English translation of the film's title is "The Bitch", although the movie was never released under this title. It is often referred to in English as Isn't Life a Bitch? The film was remade by Fritz Lang in the United States as Scarlet Street (1945).
Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc., doing business as Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, is the home entertainment distribution arm of The Walt Disney Company. The division handles the distribution of Disney's films, television series, and other audiovisual content across several home media formats, such as Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray discs, DVDs, and digital media, under various brand labels across the world.
This article compares the technical specifications of multiple high-definition formats, including HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc; two mutually incompatible, high-definition optical disc formats that, beginning in 2006, attempted to improve upon and eventually replace the DVD standard. The two formats remained in a format war until February 19, 2008, when Toshiba, HD DVD's creator, announced plans to cease development, manufacturing and marketing of HD DVD players and recorders.
The DVD is a digital optical disc data storage format invented and developed in 1995 and released in late 1996. The medium can store any kind of digital data and was widely used for software and other computer files as well as video programs watched using DVD players. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than compact discs while having the same dimensions.
The Blu-ray Disc (BD), often known simply as Blu-ray, is a digital optical disc storage format. It is designed to supersede the DVD format, and capable of storing several hours of high-definition video. The main application of Blu-ray is as a medium for video material such as feature films and for the physical distribution of video games for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The name "Blu-ray" refers to the blue laser used to read the disc, which allows information to be stored at a greater density than is possible with the longer-wavelength red laser used for DVDs.
HD DVD is a discontinued high-density optical disc format for storing data and playback of high-definition video. Supported principally by Toshiba, HD DVD was envisioned to be the successor to the standard DVD format.
The high-definition optical disc format war was between the Blu-ray and HD DVD optical disc standards for storing high-definition video and audio; it took place between 2006 and 2008 and was won by Blu-ray Disc.
Home video is prerecorded media sold or rented for home viewing. The term originates from the VHS and Betamax era, when the predominant medium was videotapes, but has carried over to optical disc formats such as DVD and Blu-ray. In a different usage, "home video" refers to amateur video recordings, also known as home movies.
The Warner Archive Collection is a home video division for releasing classic and cult films from Warner Bros.' library. It started as a manufactured-on-demand (MOD) DVD series by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on March 23, 2009, with the intention of putting previously unreleased catalog films on DVD for the first time. In November 2012, Warner expanded the Archive Collection to include Blu-ray releases, Some Warner Archive releases, such as Wise Guys, previously had a pressed DVD release but have lapsed out of print and have since being re-released as part of the Warner Archive collection.
Ultra HD Blu-ray (UHD-BD), also referred as 4K Blu-ray, is a digital optical disc data storage format that is an enhanced variant of Blu-ray. Ultra HD Blu-ray discs are incompatible with existing standard Blu-ray players. Ultra HD Blu-ray supports 4K UHD video at frame rates up to 60 progressive frames per second, encoded using High Efficiency Video Coding. The discs support both high dynamic range by increasing the color depth to 10-bit per color and a greater color gamut than supported by conventional Blu-ray video by using the Rec. 2020 color space. 4K Blu-rays are supported on Microsoft's Xbox One X, One S;, and PlayStation 5 while retail game releases on the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 video game consoles may be natively printed onto 100GB UHD Blu-ray discs.
Hulu is looking to court movie buffs to its subscription Plus offering, announcing Tuesday that it has acquired streaming rights for hundreds of classic films from The Criterion Collection. [...] Hulu Plus will soon be the only place old movie buffs will be able to catch Criterion titles.