Well here’s some terrible news: FilmStruck is shutting down. The only major streaming service that showcases a broad range of classic films is being shuttered by WarnerMedia, it was announced today, in yet another move by the corporation to consolidate WarnerMedia’s various businesses. This comes on the heels of the merger with AT&T and is further proof of the real cost of corporate mergers, as Warner Bros.’ new parent company also recently handed down a dictate for HBO to increase its volume of content significantly in an effort to further compete with Netflix.
FilmStruck launched in November 2016 as an offshoot of Turner Classic Movies with a vast library of classic film content and bonus material to further contextualize some of the most essential films in history. The service features micro-lectures and special programming to help viewers further understand the importance of the films they’re watching. Or did I should say, as this service will cease to exist on November 29th.
This is a shocking blow to cinephiles and should be cause for concern for any true movie lover. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon are simply not interested in classic film, as evidenced by the dearth of movies made before the year 2000 in their libraries. Indeed, as the content wars wage on, various streaming giants are more focused on creating new original content rather than curating older films. That’s why FilmStruck was so important.
Speaking as a self-professed cinephile who studied at the School of Blockbuster as a youngster, I can’t stress enough the importance of watching older films. In order to truly appreciate and understand the art of film, a familiarity with film history is crucial. Watching classics like Psycho or The Third Man is how you come to understand how certain filmmaking techniques that have become standard were invented in the first place, and watching how they evolved over the ensuing decades is just as vital. Moreover, a great film is simply a great film, not matter when it was made.
It’s possible WarnerMedia shut down FilmStruck in order to save its library of content for its own streaming service that’s expected to launch next year, but right now there are still a lot of questions. For its part, The Criterion Collection—which had a full Criterion Channel on FilmStruck—says it’ll be looking for ways to get its content back online soon:
All this is very new, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated as we learn more details. But rest assured that we are still committed to restoring and preserving the best of world cinema and bringing it to you in any medium we can. In the weeks ahead, we’ll keep you informed about the great programming you can watch on the Channel before it shuts down on November 29, and we’ll be trying to find ways we can bring our library and original content back to the digital space as soon as possible. Thanks to everyone who enjoyed FilmStruck, and we hope you’ll join us as we look forward to what the future brings.
This is yet another reminder of how invaluable physical media can be, and for anyone who considers himself or herself a movie lover, I implore you to seek out classic films. My best advice right now is to ensure you’ve got a subscription to Turner Classic Movies.