FilmStruck UK is officially shutting its doors next month, the streaming service has announced.
The subscription service, which is a joint venture between Turner International’s Digital Ventures & Innovation Group and Warner Bros. Digital Networks, first opened its online doors in 2016, becoming a popular platform for cinephiles in the USA, thanks to its focus on classic, arthouse and indie cinema – titles often overlooked by larger streaming players, such as Netflix. Earlier this year, FilmStruck teamed up with Curzon in the UK to launch on British soil, marking its first step into international territory. Less than a year later, though, FilmStruck UK – and the whole of FilmStruck – is ceasing operations.
The decision was announced today, as AT&T, which recently completed its acquisition of Time Warner, seeks to streamline its operations. Indeed, other WarnerMedia US digital departments have also been shuttered in recent weeks, including DramaFever and Super Deluxe, spelling out a warning sign for FilmStruck subscribers. This afternoon, FilmStruck confirmed that it will shut down on 29th November 2018.
“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,” Warner and Turner said in a statement. “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.”
Indeed, that direct-to-consumer space is where Warner is now steering its ship, as AT&T follows in Disney’s footsteps to launch its own overall subscription platform. The service, which is expected to launch next year, will combine WarnerMedia’s sizeable library of entertainment to take on Disney, Netflix and more, with HBO (part of WarnerMedia, alongside the recently launched DC Universe) driving the overall package. Whether that means FilmStruck’s library will be included, though, is not yet clear – particularly as FilmStruck’s library includes as a major cornerstone the acclaimed and sought-after Criterion Collection.
“When we launched the Criterion Channel in 2016, we had two goals: to ensure that our entire streaming library remained available, and to address our audience in our own voice,” wrote Criterion in a blog post this afternoon, adding: “We’ll be trying to find ways we can bring our library and original content back to the digital space as soon as possible.”
In the UK, where a smaller selection of Criterion titles were available on FilmStruck, it is yet to be seen what will happen to the Criterion Collection digitally, which has previously had deals with Hulu and MUBI. Curzon, however, continues to operate its own in-house streaming platform, Curzon Home Cinema, which offers titles on a pay-per-view basis – and its own subscription offering, Curzon12, which bundles in exclusive streaming titles with overall Curzon Cinemas membership. For wider subscription streaming access to classic cinema titles, though, in an industry where the focus is on new, original content, a significant player has left the market – with MUBI (£7.99 a month) and BFI Player+ (£4.99 a month) now the go-to platforms for older titles and world cinema.
FilmStruck UK announced today that all current subscribers will receive an email with more information, although this email has not yet been sent. “It has been our pleasure bringing FilmStruck to you and we thank you for your support,” concluded the site.