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in Filmmaking
on Nov 25, 2008

The Criterion Company has arguably created the most successful art-film related brand when it comes to monetizing the idea of cinematic value. Many people buy their DVDs for the same reason my parents used to line our bookshelves with Modern Library editions of the classics. They are titles that if one is cultured one should know about. They rarely sell the idea of excitement or entertainment; instead, with their director-approved transfers and culturally dense supporting materials, they sell the idea of connoisseurship and erudition. Until now, that idea has always rested in physicality of their beautifully packaged disks.

Now, the company shows itself to be forward-thinking in terms of the extension of their brand into the digital space. Criterion has relaunched its website with a simple, clean design and a new feature: the ability to rent titles at the price of $5 for one week. And — and here is where they are very smart — the rental fee can be applied to the DVD purchase price if you decide you’d like the physical DVD after viewing. Titles available so far include Ratcatcher, San Soleil, Sweetie, and Solaris. The old-school purist in me is horrified that people will discover Tarkovsky’s epic journey into outer and inner space on their 13″ laptop screens; the new media fan in me is happy to see Criterion take this leap.

Check out the new site and the charming video intro on the home page.

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