Among cinephiles, The Criterion Collection is pretty much a holy organization. Established in 1984, the folks at Criterion's goal has been to gather the world's best and most important films from all over the world and distribute them in the highest possible quality. Criterion is oftentimes able to bring to life forgotten classics and films that have fallen off even the most ardent film-lover's radar.
And now, as Very Aware has noticed, the Criterion Collection has made a very quiet debut on iTunes. Very quiet in that there's been no big announcement and their Twitter and Facebook pages are bereft of even the smallest promotion.
The Criterion selection now available on iTunes is nowhere near the full collection, in fact there are barely over forty individual films available. But they have included some absolute must-sees like Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless, John Ford's Stagecoach, Kurosawa's Yojimbo and Marcel Camus' Black Orpheus.
The Criterion Collection is known to be a bit pricey - as the DVD's and Blu-Rays can run anywhere from $25 to $40 - even more in rare circumstances. But here, the prices are quite reasonable, especially in comparison to other movies on iTunes. Most of the Criterion films are $2.99 to rent and $14.99 to buy. By comparison, it's $14.99 to buy the new release Crazy, Stupid Love (starring Steve Carrell) and $3.99 to rent it.
That price point on purchases is especially tempting, considering that the same films on physical DVD would be much more expensive. You could build a nice little collection of classic Criterion films on your iPad for (relatively) cheap.
Of course, the iTunes selection is nowhere near the selection offered on Hulu. There, hundreds of Criterion films are available for a $7.99 a month subscription.
The lack of fanfare regarding this move is a bit surprising, but maybe it's because of the fairly soft opening of 46 films. I'm sure that Criterion will add plenty more of its collection to the Apple marketplace. Another disappointing thing about the iTunes launch is the lack of special features - something that makes Criterion films special. As Very Aware points out, Criterion could utilize the iTunes extra feature in the future to bring some of that extra content to its films.
In other Criterion Collection news, they have been vocal about the fact that it's Criterion days at Barnes & Noble. Every year, you can snatch up their films for 50% off both online and in-stores for a limited time.
The more and more I look at this, the more and more I'm tempted to snatch up Hoop Dreams for my iPad for permanent in-flight entertainment.