For two years, I have been an annual subscriber to FilmStruck. Tonight the relationship ends, as AT&T shutters the service. Go back a few months, when making promises about consumer benefits, AT&T merged with Time Warner. Since, services like Direct TV Now cost more, while others are going or have gone. There is, or was, nothing like FilmStruck on the Internet—well, for content obtainable legally. Not that AT&T brass care.
The service was a cinephile’s dream. Where else do you see movies cataloged by director, or are there fascinating extras available almost nowhere else? I chose “Night to Remember” as Featured Image because it is one of my favorite classic films and for the accompanying interview with the last living Titanic survivor (before she died). Her recollection is rare footage that punctuates the movie’s storytelling.
But alas, Nov. 29, 2018 is a different night to remember. The day AT&T put profits before art—months after FilmStruck expanded its collection and its presence internationally. How did it come to this? I joined on the first day and still subscribe on the last. Alpha and Omega. Beginning and the end.
Perhaps, from the ashes of burned celluloid, a phoenix will rise. Criterion Channel is being prepped to launch early next year to bring back much of the curation, culture, and charisma that made FilmStruck so classy—and classic. From the Criterion Collection email I received today:
It feels as if we were just hitting our stride, and it’s heartbreaking that the passion project of Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection has to come to an end. FilmStruck has left its mark on us at Criterion. The lights may go out at midnight, but we will still be carrying the torch. If you’ve loved the curated programming on FilmStruck and the Criterion Channel, there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon. We’ve been given a second chance, an opportunity, with TCM’s blessing, to rebuild an independent service, owned and run by Criterion, with a mission to pick up where FilmStruck left off.
I signed up to be a charter member. Shouldn’t you?