Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
29 November 2018
The demise of FilmStruck signifies a cultural tragedy
Of all the streaming services available, FilmStruck stood as the one I most worried about. Yes, worried. The service, a partnership between the Criterion Collection and Time Warner (including Turner Classic Movies), streams old classics and foreign masterpieces. There is Hitchcock, Fellini, Bergman and many others.
Over the weekend, the newly formed conglomerate WarnerMedia announces the service will end at the end of next month.
There were two reasons I worried FlimStruck was going by the wayside. One, Time Warner (including HBO) becomes part of WarnerMedia, which now includes AT&T and all the Warner Bros library. Hence, WarnerMedia is interested in taking on Netflix, Amazon and the upcoming Disney service.
Now, you might all be thinking, “Wow, that means the FilmStruck library will be in that!”
I seriously doubt it. This brings up the second reason why I feared FilmStruck wouldn’t last long. (It only lasted two years.) In 2018, many of the films on the service are as old as 100 years. Only a few, yes, but many others are from the 40s and 50s. That’s nearly a lifetime ago.
“Anything made before 1990, it seems, becomes a forgotten relic as we move into the 2020s. The hard truth with FilmStruck closing is that few actually care.”
FilmStruck ending speaks to a larger trend
Meaning, in a world in which Netflix creates buzz by introducing a new series each week, the past fades more and more as years go by. We’re getting to the point where most simply don’t care about classic films. Martin Scorsese can only preserve so many films.
Anything made before 1990, it seems, becomes a forgotten relic as we move into the 2020s. The hard truth with FilmStruck closing is that few actually care.
That makes me unbearably sad.
Right now, you can stream Robert Redford’s The Candidate, all the previous versions of A Star is Born and nine films from the great director John Huston.
Criterion and TCM take great care in curating those films, both in restoration and presenting. I fear those celluloid classics are going to be irrelevant the more years pass by. And possibly even disappear.
Am I just an old fogey bemoaning the loss of films that formed me? Yes, but the demise of FilmStruck speaks to a larger cultural shift. Losing access to what founded all of today’s great work is a cultural tragedy.
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