The Criterion Collection is a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films on home video. Our editions often feature restored film transfers, commentary tracks, and other supplemental features that the company pioneered when it released its first laserdiscs, Citizen Kane and King Kong, at the end of 1984. Ever since, Criterion has been working closely with filmmakers and scholars to ensure that each film is presented as its maker would want it seen and published in an edition that will deepen the viewer’s understanding and appreciation of the art of cinema.
We aim to reflect the breadth of filmed expression. We try not to be restrictive or snobby about what kinds of films are appropriate. An auteur classic, a Hollywood blockbuster or an independent B horror film has to be taken on its own terms. All we ask is that each film in the collection be an exemplary film of its kind. Of course we can’t just pick movies and put them out. The process of getting the rights to release a film can take years. Even if we want a film, we can’t work on it unless the film’s owners grant us the rights.
Each film release has a producer who oversees the entire process, from restoration to supplemental features to packaging. The producer researches available materials, conceives of original supplements, and decides which features truly add value to the appreciation of the film. We are fortunate to work with many great film directors, cinematographers, actors, scholars, and critics. We do not let market factors or an arbitrary quantity of supplements determine our decision for inclusion; rather it is on a case-by-case basis, serving the purpose of enhancing the viewer’s experience of that particular film.
Every Criterion release features an About the Transfer section in the insert. Here you will find listed the aspect ratio of the film, along with information about the picture and sound elements from which it was transferred. We endeavor to present every film in its original aspect ratio (i.e., the ratio of height to width of the image), unless the filmmaker expressly requests a slightly different framing. What that means is that the Criterion brand is your guarantee that you’re getting the complete picture as the filmmaker intended. We present films that were shot in 4 x 3 Academy ratio windowboxed because almost all NTSC standard-definition television sets overscan the image, and a portion of it is cropped on all sides of the screen. So that no portion of the picture is missing when the DVD is played, we provide black around the picture in the hope that only the black is scanned. We do not windowbox Blu-ray or online movies.
All our foreign-language titles have optional English subtitles. We do not subtitle in other languages because in almost all cases we only have the rights to publish our releases in the original language and/or an English version.
We announce all our upcoming titles on our website as soon as we can make them public. Also, we announce upcoming titles in our newsletter, which we encourage you to sign up for to get special offers and contest giveaways. Click here to visit our sign-up page for more information. If you would like to suggest a title, please write to email@example.com. Though you will get an automatic reply, our acquisitions staff reads all the suggestions and appreciates hearing from you.
The companies share similar missions but focus on different markets. Criterion publishes DVDs and Blu-ray discs and spends most of its energy on the home video market. Janus handles theatrical and nontheatrical showings, as well as television and cable licenses. To learn more about Janus Films, please visit: janusfilms.com.
The Criterion Collection is dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions of the highest technical quality, with supplemental features that enhance the appreciation of the art of film. Eclipse is a selection of lost, forgotten, or overshadowed classics in simple, affordable editions. Each Eclipse series is a brief cinematheque retrospective for the adventurous home viewer. Essential Art House is exactly that: movie-only editions of the films you need to know, presented in beautiful digital transfers and accompanied by helpful liner notes. For the devoted cinephile, these are must-own fundamentals; for the novice film lover, this is precisely where to begin.
Every Eclipse series includes two or more films, and they are not sold separately on DVD.
Yes, with the exception of certain films that appear only in our fifty-disc Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films box set. Most of the films available in the Essential Art House line are available in your choice of stand-alone editions—a movie-only Essential Art House edition or a full-blown Criterion Collection special edition. Some may be available in a Blu-ray edition as well.
We only publish DVDs for the North American market, and our DVDs and Blu-ray discs are encoded region 1.
We would love to be able to rerelease all our laserdisc titles; however, it isn’t always possible due to rights issues. We are continuously working on acquiring rights to films we want to include in the collection, including renewing rights for films we previously released on laserdisc, or for DVD titles that have gone out of print. Whether or not we can acquire those rights again, however, depends a lot on the rights holder, and each film is a different case.
Please send an e-mail to Jon Mulvaney at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to replace any defective DVDs or Blu-ray discs you have. And we appreciate hearing about any technical issues with our titles, as we care a lot about the quality of our products.
Our prices reflect all the resources we put into making each release a special release. Each release has a producer who finds the best supplemental features to help further the appreciation of the film, often producing original content. The technical staff ensures that we are working with the best original source materials and digital masters by performing rigorous visual and audio restoration processes.
For the reasons stated above, it costs a lot of money for us to make a good DVD/Blu-ray edition, and we know Criterion discs are not inexpensive, but we feel they are a good value. If you can buy a Criterion disc at a price you think is absurdly low, it’s probably not a legitimate disc. Also, a good thing to do is to look for our copyright and make sure that the DVD or Blu-ray disc’s audio, video, and features specs match those that appear on our website. Although this cannot definitively determine a disc’s authenticity, you can feel safer if this information is consistent.
We appreciate the loyalty of our customers, and we do offer a loyalty points program. Here’s how it works: every dollar you spend at the Criterion store earns you a point. When you get to 500 points, we will send you a $50 gift certificate. To take advantage of this, you must register for a customer account at checkout with a valid e-mail address, so we can keep track of your total and credit your account. Shipping fees, sales tax, and gift certificates do not count toward the loyalty program.
In general, we’ll only rerelease a movie when we’ve obtained access to new materials that can make a significantly better release. These could be new film elements or a new restoration, or some supplements that were unavailable when we first released the movie. We tried to offer a rebate program for second releases of DVDs, but it wasn’t successful. The participation was very low, and we couldn’t price it at a level that made economic sense without unfairly competing with our resellers.
Please send all sales inquiries to Jon Mulvaney at email@example.com. For other contact questions, please see our Contact Us page.
For information on wholesale discounts, please contact Jon Mulvaney at firstname.lastname@example.org. Wholesale sales are final and nonreturnable.
Yes. Criterion is licensed to sell most of its editions only in North America.
If you love these films, keep buying DVDs. It is going to be quite a while before the Blu-ray marketplace can support many of the titles Criterion releases on DVD. For new releases, if we think a title has a shot at succeeding on Blu-ray, we aim to put out both editions at the same time, so you can make an informed choice.
Criterion’s Blu-ray editions will generally be priced to match our DVDs. It makes sense to us: High-definition mastering and restoration has been a part of our DVD production standard for years. And for our customers who might be on the fence about whether to buy DVD or Blu-ray, we thought the best thing we could do was take price out of the equation.