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A Long Time Coming

February 15th, 2011 by Peter Becker CEO, Criterion

It’s not often that you get to say you are going to meet millions of new people on a single day while making a wish come true for many of your oldest friends, but that is exactly what is happening to the Criterion Collection today, as we go live with a major new offering on Hulu.

When I first started working at the Criterion Collection about seventeen years ago, I remember coming across a file box full of typed and handwritten letters that viewers had sent to Jon Mulvaney, our longtime customer liaison. At that time, the company was sometimes referred to as the “Rolls-Royce of laser discs” — an honor, to be sure, but one that was meaningful to a vanishingly small sliver of the American public. Many of our editions sold hundreds, not even thousands, of copies, at prices as high as $125 for a single film, but we had a very dedicated audience of movie lovers who had come to value Criterion for our commitment to quality, and for the array of special features we had pioneered starting in 1984, when we published the first ever commentary tracks and special features to appear alongside motion pictures.

It is tempting to say that a lot has changed since then, but the truth is, even more has remained constant. We don’t make laser discs anymore, but we are still dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and using the latest technology to present them in editions that will deepen viewers’ appreciation and understanding of the art of cinema. Customers still write to Jon Mulvaney all the time, but now instead of pens and typewriters, they send him e-mail or post to our Facebook page or Twitter.

When I think back to all the letters I read that day, I realize that even the subjects of those letters haven’t changed much at all. Most were and are passionate pleas for us to release a favorite film or seek out a particular director’s work, but then, as now, one of the most common requests was for some kind of subscription program that would give customers access to everything we put out.

Starting today, there are more than 150 of our most important films online on the Hulu Plus subscription service. Over the coming months, that number will swell to more than 800 films. For the true cinephile, this should be a dream come true. On Hulu Plus, you’ll find everything in our library, from Academy Award winners to many of the most famous films by art-house superstars like Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, and Federico Fellini to films so rare that they have never been seen in the U.S. in any medium. Some of these lost gems have been so hard to see that even most of the Criterion staff will see them for the first time only when they go live on Hulu Plus! Each month, we’ll be highlighting a mix of programs, centered on themes, directors, actors, and other creative artists, as well as celebrity picks, and mixing them with deep cuts from the catalog that will be unknown to all but the most prominent cinephiles in the world.

Criterion has always been a company driven by its mission, not by any particular medium, and while we still see our core business as producing the world’s best DVD and Blu-ray versions of the world’s best films, this new venture with Hulu represents a huge expansion of our reach. Not only will Hulu users have access to the largest digital archive of Criterion movies for the first time, Hulu Plus subscribers will now be able to stream our films (and yes, before long, many of our supplements too!) on a wide array of devices, including iPhones, iPads, PlayStations, and Internet-connected television sets.

And finally, why Hulu? In short, because they get it. As their regular viewers know, the Hulu user experience is exactly what it should be: simple, elegant, and focused on the content. Hulu has built their brand on letting the shows and movies take center stage. Nobody does it better, and we’re honored that they see Criterion as a good match for their audience. We’re going to do all we can to make the experience of Criterion on Hulu Plus an exciting adventure for all of us, so please check it out and let us know what you think.

Peter Becker
CEO, Criterion

Last comment: about 9 hours ago 9 Comments
  • open and lod in my accound

  • Hi there,

    At the moment, we don’t have any international streaming rights for our content, so we’re not able to stream outside of the US. Before we can, we need to obtain streaming rights for each show and movie in each specific region.

    It’ll take some time, and I don’t have a definitive timeline just yet, so thank you for your patience in the meantime.

    Tim
    Hulu Support

  • PS3 YLOD says:

    can I actually use Hulu to watch movies in the UK?

  • dizeyner says:

    Ive been in love with Hulu for a very long time. Your marketing strategy was priceless. first, lure me away with FREE and all my fav shows. toss in a few good movies, and then blamo, I hit something I want and could have, for free, if I just waited one more week. I didnt wait. SO, I got sucked in with the very low price. I wasn’t happy to pay it because I can see that HULU has some great advertising paying the way already. But then again…its way better then 10.00 cable. Hell, its way better than 64.00 Cable. But seriously guys, you have a LOT of ads. and they are SOOOO repetitive. So, I figure you must have to charge for now, because maybe you dont have enough advertisers yet.

    Keep the price low and get some variety in the ads and I have no doubt you will rule the world.

    and, one more thing…does anyone know how to use a digital TV as a second monitor? I like to watch TV while I do other things on my computer and my poor tv is just sitting there gathering dust! seriously, email diva at diva-designs dot come if you have any ideas..there has to be a way without buying some lame box.

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  • Tatie says:

    Thank you Hulu for making my decision making process -Hulu or Netflix?- a whole lot harder!

  • Carl says:

    Thanks Hulu and Criterion for making this happen. My subscription just got a whole lot better.

  • Kent Martin says:

    This is fantastic news! I will definitely be keeping my hulu plus subscription. I just need to know, are these movies completely uncut / unedited? I don’t want to be seeing any bad words bleeped out or scenes cut out, please! Thanks!

  • […] to the Hulu blog, more than 150 Criterion titles will be available for streaming through the Hulu Plus service, […]

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