Streaming Service FilmStruck Shutting Down in November

At TCM Film Festival  in spring 2018, Martin Scorsese gave a speech upon receiving the very first Robert Osborne Award and said he worries about the place for cinema in the age of “content.” He said, “If there’s no sense of value to a particular movie, then it can be sampled and watched in bits and pieces and just forgotten.” He impressed upon those who have the rights to movies “that they are in temporary, legal ownership of something much, much greater than content or disposable merchandise.” It seems Mr. Scorsese’s words have fallen on deaf ears.On Friday, classic and indie film streaming service FilmStruck announced it will be shutting down effective November 29. The move comes as parent company AT&T continues its quest to “streamline” WarnerMedia, Turner, and Warner Bros. Digital Networks. Earlier in the month, the media conglomerate also shut down DramaFever, the Warner-owned Korean drama provider, and comedy creators Super Deluxe got the ax.

From Variety, a statement from Turner and Warner Digital said of FilmStruck: “We’re incredibly proud of the creativity and innovations produced by the talented and dedicated teams who worked on FilmStruck over the past two years.” Which is nice. However the statement goes on to say:

While FilmStruck has a very loyal fanbase, it remains largely a niche service. We plan to take key learnings from FilmStruck to help shape future business decisions in the direct-to-consumer space and redirect this investment back into our collective portfolios.

FilmStruck began in November 2016 as a joint venture between Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection to curate a massive library of classic and independent films from all over the world and all eras of Hollywood and beyond. They would have monthly collections of films around a specific theme and would have weekly featured directors and stars where fans could watch a batch of movies by specific people. In addition, the service provided newly commissioned programming including introductions on most films or lists, lengthy interviews with interesting people about their love of cinema, and even a wide array of video essays about the theory and execution of film. It was, to say the least, the best and most lovingly created streaming service for fans of movies anywhere in the world. It wasn’t “niche.” It was incredibly all encompassing.It’s thoroughly heartbreaking to me that something like this, which sought to be the premier place for fans of films to watch good movies in the best way possible, can so easily be “redirected” back into a company’s “collective portfolio.” AT&T, Warner, and Turner have made a huge, short-sighted mistake. The future of movie-watching is streaming services, and shotgun models like Netflix and Amazon might be gargantuan now, but the sheen is wearing off and a swath of people want more than just whatever-the-hell to watch.FilmStruck was an opportunity to assure the public that movies do matter, that they can be treated with care and thought, and that they deserve to be celebrated. But alas it was not to be. I just hope someone else learns from the FilmStruck model and we get another service this robust, this user-focused, and this passionate about preserving the defining art form of the past 100+ years.

Images: Turner/Roku

Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Twitter!

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