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A gift for movie lovers: Criterion Collection joins Hulu Plus

February 15th, 2011 by Eugene Wei SVP, Audience

My earliest movie exposure was heavily influenced by what my father could find at the local video store. He’d stop there on the way home from work and pick out one of new releases from the display of empty video boxes that lined the outer walls of the store. And so my early love of movies grew largely from a diet of American Hollywood blockbusters because that’s what dominated the most coveted merchandising space at our local video stores.

After college, I moved to Seattle, and some movie buffs I met there introduced me to a video store called Scarecrow Video. This was unlike any video store I’d ever encountered. It was enormous, carrying seemingly every movie ever put on video in any format, from VHS to laserdisc to DVD, including PAL videotapes and foreign region DVDs that required renting special machines to play. These were movies from all over the world, in all languages, sorted not just by new versus old but by country, director, and genre. It was at Scarecrow that I rented my first Criterion laser disc. Most of them were so rare that the store required a credit card deposit of several hundred dollars just to walk out of the store with the movie.

But it was worth it. The Criterion Collection is likely the preeminent distribution brand in the minds of movie buffs. They’ve earned that title in two key ways. One is by curating and licensing rights to a library of truly great, enduring movies. Secondly, when they bring those movies to the world, they do so with an attention to detail and quality that can only come from the purest love and respect for movies as an art form.

That’s why we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve added the Criterion Collection exclusively to our Hulu Plus service today. Criterion has digital streaming rights to over 800 of the films in their library, from a who’s who roster of directors: Antonioni, Bergman, Bresson, Bunuel, Chabrol, Chaplin, Clouzot, Cocteau, Dreyer, Eisenstein, Fassbinder, Fellini, Godard, Kaurismaki, Kieslowski, Kurosawa, Lang, Malle, Ozu, Renoir, Tati, Truffaut, Varda, and Welles, to name two handfuls. We’re launching with over 150 Criterion movies today, and we’ll be adding more titles each month. Among the launch list today are so many acknowledged classics: The 400 Blows, L’Avventura, The Battle of Algiers, Breathless, La Jetée, Jules and Jim, M, Pickpocket, Playtime, Rashomon, Seven Samurai, La Strada, and The Wages of Fear.

But just as exciting are the titles still to come. These include not just more well-known classics but also movies that have been difficult or impossible to find on video in any format. Le Silence de la Mer, by one of my favorite directors, Jean-Pierre Melville. The extended filmography of Kenji Mizoguchi. Early shorts by Chaplin. L’Assassin Habite au 21, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s first feature. This doesn’t even include the supplemental content Criterion is famous for and which we’ll bring to the Criterion experience on Hulu Plus over time: commentaries, documentaries, interviews, original trailers, essays, and more. Many of these will be digitized for the first time. We’re honored to partner with Criterion to make all this cinematic treasure available to movie lovers, critics, and historians alike.

Movies, unlike most of our TV programs, aren’t shot with ad breaks in mind, and it has always been tricky to find opportune moments to inject ad breaks in movies on Hulu.com so that we can compensate content owners while maintaining the optimum user experience. 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 Hulu.com with our normal periodic ad breaks.

The first set of Criterion movies are already available across all devices supported by the Hulu Plus service. On the web, you’ll find Criterion on Hulu at www.hulu.com/criterion. Please dive in and let us know what you think!

Eugene Wei
SVP of Audience

Last comment: about 8 hours ago 51 Comments
  • Love Hulu and love Criterion! great post there are so many movies streaming now. Can’t wait for more.

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  • [...] Criterion Collection first appeared on Hulu back in February 2011. As of today, there are over 800 different films to stream from Criterion on Hulu, making it one of [...]

  • [...] Criterion Collection first appeared on Hulu back in February 2011. As of today, there are over 800 different films to stream from Criterion on Hulu, making it one of [...]

  • You’re more than welcome, Gina! We love having the Criterion Collection on Hulu and hope to have more to offer in the future.

    Thanks,
    Hulu Support

  • Gina Byrnes says:

    Found out about the Criterion collection offered on Hulu from Roger Ebert’s blog – this is wonderful! I love, love, love Criterion – when I have surplus cash, I would treat myself to one of their DVD titles every now and then. The Hulu subscription is a phenomenal price, and I get to indulge in all the great movies all I want! I read the plan is to gradually incorporate every Criterion title into the Hulu collection and I am so excited about this. Thank you Hulu for offering this amazing collection; this is a quality and content Netflix cannot match.

    Now if Hulu could partner with Facets…? But that’s just me being greedy.

    Thank you Hulu!

  • gifts says:

    I haven’t signed up for it yet,but I want to sign up for it.Compared to other video sites, Hulu now makes wonderful sense! I am a huge fan of Allvie.Thanks for posting.

  • Finally!! Some good movies on Hulu!! :-) !!!

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  • Rod James says:

    It’s a pity that all the comments here are spam. Note even the clever kind of spam either. I just found out about Hulu and I think this is a great promotion to pull people in and pay for the service. I haven’t signed up for it yet, but if Hulu is going to have great movies and you only have to pay what, eight dollars for the premier service, heck it beats sifting through all the virus filled pirate stuff out there.

  • Ken Shane says:

    I see that a whole bunch of new Criterion films have been added recently, as promised. I thank you for providing this fantastic groups of films. I am wondering about one thing:

    “This doesn’t even include the supplemental content Criterion is famous for and which we’ll bring to the Criterion experience on Hulu Plus over time: commentaries, documentaries, interviews, original trailers, essays, and more.”

    Can you give us any idea of when you might start adding these features for which Criterion is justifiably famous?

  • john wilson says:

    thank you for putting together such a great collection of movies. I look forward to viewing all of them. :)

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  • Mark says:

    All of these movies are a million years old and SUCK! Who would want to watch any of these? The people who would have watched these when they came out are all dead now……. Get a clue Hulu these movies are nothing to brag about, they are to be hid in shame that you even have them.

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  • Eliot says:

    Pricing. Will we have to pay to watch the movies on top of the subscription, or will the $7.99 monthly fee cover ALL charges? This is not clear on the Criterion or Hulu web pages.

  • Evan says:

    Hulu Plus should not have advertisements. Netflix does not. That is all I had to say. Thank you.

  • Raven Riley says:

    Oh, an excellent description!

  • Tommy Coleman says:

    I have renewed my HULU+ subscription because of this Criterion deal. I am so glad that there will be no ads interrupting the movie, that would have been a deal breaker.

    Thank You!

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  • Brendon says:

    Purewitz, you’ve never heard of Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Rashomon, or The Hidden Fortress?

    It’s simply ridiculous that you’d refer to hulu adding more content, much less the fucking CRITERION COLLECTION as them dropping the ball.

  • Purewitz says:

    Why was this collection even added to Hulu at all? Other than the Charlie Chaplin movies, The Theif of Baghdad, and The Red Balloon. I’ve never heard of any of these movies. Why did you think adding more B, C, and D list movies was a god idea? The Charlie Chaplin movies are the only films in the collection worth watching. You really dropped the ball on this one, Hulu. This is why I only watch TV shows on Hulu. You guys need to step up your game and add some good movies to Hulu.

  • Diana says:

    For everyone who is wondering, the music in the background of the Criterion Collection ads is part of “The Carnival of the Animals”, by composer Camille Saint-Saens. The movement is called “Aquarium”, and you can listen to it on YouTube. This piece has been used in several film trailers, and influenced the score for Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”.

  • Sheri says:

    The music is Camille Saint~Saens “Carnival of the Animals: the Aquarium”

  • [...] Hulu has begun their acquisition by incrementally making available films from the collection online. As of today, 150 Criterion Collection films are available to be watched through the Hulu Plus service. The entire collection spans a staggering 800 films making Hulu’s selection considerably more robust than before the deal. While the collection as a whole will only be available to paying members, many of the films will be able to be viewed for free with advertisements. However, apparently ads will play in the front of films for paying customers. [...]

  • Judah says:

    Thank you! Theses are the movies that shaped my visual aesthetic and cinematic palette. As a teenager these are the movies i would search out at my own small-town video store and sneak into the house to watch when i was on my own for an afternoon- each film an education and an adventure that further out into the world around me. thank you for bringing this collection on line.

    warmest,
    Judah

  • tericee says:

    Awesome news! Now if I could just stream Hulu Plus through my AppleTV…

  • Justin says:

    Does anyone have any idea what the name of the score for the ads promoting this excellent addition to the content is (which is simply fantastic, by the way)?

    It sounds so familiar, but I cannot remember the title or composer.

  • Matt says:

    Chaplin movies. Ty :)

  • Michael says:

    You just earned my $7.99 / mo. Well done, people.

  • Ernest says:

    This is fantastic!! I will be sure to continue my subscription now that there will be hundreds of QUALITY films to watch here.

  • David says:

    Finally Hulu Plus is beginning to show what it can be. I have stuck with this subscription since the beginning, hoping and waiting for it to blossom into something beyond a collection of middle of the road movies with some more worthy nuggets sprinkled here and there and even a few gems. Adding this group from Criterion is truly putting the “plus” in Hulu Plus. I hope Hulu can continue this. I’m definitely sold on the subscription if they can. Thank you.

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  • Greg Bulmash says:

    Hey Eugene,

    Might not have read the blog if I didn’t see your name on it. Glad to see Jason took some good talent with him. Also glad to see that these will be without commercial interruption for Plus members. Interrupting films is bad enough, but if you had been interrupting *these* films… sacrilege. Thanks for giving me better value for my subscription dollar.

  • Shantelle says:

    What an amazing opportunity this is, I am so excited to get my film school knowlege for $7.99 a month. Woo Hoo!

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  • Weishrjung says:

    Brilliant. You’ve got my Hulu Plus money. I’ve just cut my cable tv, once I’d seen this. All of these movies come back to me from when I saw them for the first time, in the Fifties and Sixties.
    So good of you to do this! Many of these I can watch over and over and over and over again!
    Compared to other video sites, Hulu now makes wonderful sense!

  • Robert says:

    Where is the Samurai Trilogy?, The Rock?, Are they going to allow streaming of the entire collection, or just the ones they want…

  • Jacentito says:

    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You. Now, this is making my H+ subscription value added. Again, so long cable!

  • We will have Criterion’s English subtitles on all foreign language films. For now these captions are always on, and eventually we will allow users to turn them on and off (for those of you fluent in Japanese and Swedish, among other languages)

  • Pretty nice article. I saw a webpage with a article exactly identical to this one a couple of days ago. This post is a week older so I recon they have just copied and eddited it. I’m not accusing you of plagiarism it’s merely just warning that it’s. I can not recall the url, sorry (age thing)

  • N. Reyes says:

    This is fantastic!! Growing up in Seattle, Scarecrow was THE place where my movie fanaticism started. Now I’m in NY with Hulu Plus streaming the Criterion collection. It all comes full circle. Great job by Hulu!!

  • agf says:

    Will the Criterion movies have original subtitles?

  • Another Mutant says:

    Bravo, Hulu! I tried Hulu Plus before but wasn’t convinced. Now THIS makes me want to subscribe ritght this second. Really, what an amazing way to stand out. Sure, other services have the DVDs, but to watch online whenever you feel like, as if it was your own private movie library, is another thing. How many people will be exposed to great movies thanks to this? Keep up the good work! I’m a huge fan of Melville, and I’m looking forward to finally being able to watch Le Silence de la Mer. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • [...] 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. [...]

  • vbz says:

    will the criterion movies have English subtitles / captions for the deaf and hearing impaired?

  • Toni says:

    Incredible! And totally unexpected good news! I’ve resisted posting ‘favorites’ … books, movies, music… on any profiles anywhere. Mine are too changeable, and the word ‘eclectic’ wears out quickly. I’ll be posting a recommendation on Facebook now …. with a link back to HuluPlus if I can manage it. Thanks for this!

  • Freddie says:

    “Rockin’ good news.” For the record, I prefer the Hulu Plus app over the Netflix app on my PS3.

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