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Turner’s FilmStruck aims to bring the art house into the living room

FilmStruck, a new subscription streaming service to launch Wednesday by Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection hopes to fill what’s been a giant void in the supposedly glorious age of streaming. The plentiful options on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu (where Criterion was previously housed) have been terrific for all kinds of watching, just not great cinema.

FilmStuck doesn’t hope to compete with those giants, which are busy building their own original series and films while concentrating less on offering robust libraries. Instead, TCM and Criterion want to bring the art house, and all the passion of movie love, into the 21st century and your living room.

“We feel like it’s a vacuum that needs a caretaker who cares,” says Jennifer Dorian, general manager of TCM and FilmStruck. “There’s a real need out there in the marketplace for film fans.”

Executives for both TCM and Criterion call their union “a lovefest,” and the match is indeed a fitting one. TCM, the 22-year-old cable network of commercial-less Hollywood classics, and Criterion, the 32-year-old purveyor of pristine, supplement-stuffed DVD sets, have both weathered continued change in media and emerged all the stronger for their steadfast dedication to movies.

While networks like AMC (“American Movie Classics”) and IFC (“Independent Film Channel”) have turned their focus to TV series, TCM and Criterion have kept the faith, and earned devoted followings because of it. The partnership came together because of their already close ties and mutual respect. When word got to Turner Classic that Criterion would be exiting its home at Hulu, talks about creating a new streaming platform began.

“We had a great set-up at Hulu, especially given the time we started there,” says Peter Becker, president of Criterion Collection. “But that service was never built from the ground up to be for movie lovers, to highlight special editions, to be curated, to highlight all kinds of stuff. There was very little opportunity to speak to our audience in our own voice.”