Photo courtesy of Celluloidwickerman.com
Story by Leah Donato / Contributing Writer
On Friday afternoon, FilmStruck released a sudden statement on their Twitter, saying that they will be discontinuing their service. The site no longer accepts any new subscribers and is allowing their current subscribers to use the service until it shuts down.
The news is disappointing to many in the film community, including actor Elijah Wood (“Lord of The Rings,” “Over the Garden Wall”) and directors Guillermo Del Toro (“The Shape of Water,” “Pan’s Labyrinth”), Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”) and Edgar Wright (“Baby Driver,” “Hot Fuzz”), who tweeted about the news and their disappointment as well.
The disappointment is likely due to the fact that it seems like FilmStruck had grown such a large following in the film community, likely due to well-known figures in the industry promoting and using the service. It was seen as the most used streaming service among many in the industry, ever since it began service in November 2016, and there didn’t seem to be any problems that would lead to it having to shut down.
FilmStruck is a movie-streaming service at $6.99 per month for TCM films and $12.99 per month for both TCM and Criterion Collection films that mainly focused on arthouse, rare, classic and independent and foreign films. They had more than 400 films available and also included extra features like essays and interviews with a few of the films. It was accessible to everyone in the U.S. and was becoming accessible to international subscribers as well.
The reasons as to why FilmStruck is shutting down aren’t entirely clear. The company hasn’t given any information besides the date of the shutdown and how subscribers will get refunds. However, Variety reports that Turner and WB Digital Networks shut it down because they stated that it was a “largely a niche service.”
Variety also reports that since FilmStruck wasn’t a mass-producing streaming service, Warner Bros. wanted to cut it off and put their resources toward something else.
However, back in February, Variety also reported that Turner wouldn’t disclose how many subscribers FilmStruck has, but Warner Bros. Digital Networks President Craig Hunegs said that it has “more subs” compared to Warner Archive, another movie streaming service by both Turner and Warner Bros. However, Turner and Hunegs wouldn’t disclose how many subscribers Warner Archive has either. Because of this information, we can’t exactly know if FilmStruck was actually a mass-producing streaming service or not.
After hearing about this and knowing everything that’s happened with MoviePass, there seems to be a trend now that money is the reason why lesser-known film companies are going downhill.
MoviePass is a service where people can go see up to one movie a day for $10 per month and covers the entire cost of the admission price for the subscriber. Lately, MoviePass has been losing subscribers and money.
This is because MoviePass can now only be used in select theaters, excluding subscribers from using the service at some AMC theaters, which is one of the most popular theaters in the U.S. It’s reported that this was a move from MoviePass; pulling away from AMC was due to MoviePass not getting money back from AMC since the service covered AMC’s customer prices. However, AMC has publicly said that while MoviePass has been generous in using its own revenue, AMC doesn’t have to give money back to the company.
Because of this, MoviePass now seems to want to encourage its subscribers to see fewer movies a month in order to spend less money on admission prices, even when they go to non-AMC theaters. That encouragement has worked, and it’s been reported that the majority of MoviePass subscribers have been only seeing about one to two movies per month.
Ultimately, it seems as though money is the reason why some movie companies stay alive and why some don’t. That’s discouraging to think about in terms of watching films in new, accessible and exciting ways. It looks like those opportunities are slowly going away, and that it’s likely that fewer people will want to go see movies in theaters or even movies at home.
However, The Criterion Collection made a statement on their website about FilmStruck being shut down and that they plan on preserving the world of cinema and bringing their films back into a digital service. With The Criterion Collection being such a well-known company, there is a lot of hope that we won’t lose the opportunity of being able to watch vast amounts of readily available and significant films.
FilmStruck became home to many film lovers, making itself a staple in the film community. It gave opportunities for people to watch films they adore without having to buy the DVDs or find ways to watch films rarely found on any other streaming service. It also gave opportunities for everyone to explore the world of film by being able to find significant and interesting films that can’t be usually found or aren’t widely popular, along with the chance of becoming invested in more movies than before.
FilmStruck will be missed by many. While there are many other streaming services for movies, there will not be anything like FilmStruck again, or at least, not for a very long time.
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