Before the Criterion Collection came along, the idea of releasing a film in widescreen format or with a commentary track was silly. Consumers didn't want that extra crap! Now every film eventually gets an overdone production full of extras, and Criterion is having a harder time carving out a niche in the marketplace for their pricey, tricked-out releases. We say that because the company is offering a 40 percent off sale (!) for three more days. Details, and whether the company can survive the economic downturn, after the jump.It happens in every field. Innovation changes up a staid industry, and leads to wholesale changes. The company that spearheads the innovation benefits initially, but the real positive effect is on the consumer and a more efficient marketplace. And as a result, the original company can't differentiate itself in the same way it did when it arrived on the scene.
There are aspects of the Criterion Collection that totally puzzle me, like why they take money from Jerry Bruckheimer and why Quentin Tarantino's brilliance offends their better senses, but who are we kidding? If I didn't have a rare Criterion Collection edition of Paolo Pasolini's Salo, I wouldn't be able to shock visitors to my apartment with insane sex and torture under the guise of art. We wouldn't have a lot if it weren't for Criterion. They were the first folks to really dedicate themselves, even in the days of LaserDisc, to making a product that film geeks could savor. Criterion also helped worthy foreign films get a new life on DVD, bringing Godard, Truffaut, and Antonioni to folks that had never seen their cinematic style before. You can see their dedication to quality in Curtis Tsui's excellent essay about the recent restoration of Wong Kar-Wai's Chungking Express. Unfortunately, you can also see how lack of access to filmmakers hampers the company, and helps studios with clout. Nevertheless, Criterion will try to jump into the Blu-Ray market with new edition of Express, The Third Man, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and Bottle Rocket, which hit stores on December 16th.
In the interim, it's 40 percent off all releases, and there was never a better time to snatch up the 50 year retrospective on Criterion parent Janus Films.
Shop the Classics [The Criterion Collection]