The obvious question is: Why are we doing this? And the only answer is that it just seems like the right thing to do.
The Criterion Collection is at an awkward age. By Variety and Hollywood Reporter standards, we’re not big (about forty people, most days), but we’re not as small as we used to be. When I started, back in the laserdisc days, we had one digital video deck and a bunch of analog equipment on a rolling rack with about 100 feet of tangled cords on the ground behind it. We moved to a new office a couple of weeks ago, and the engineer told me we had run 18,000 feet of cable for our audio and video rooms. Times have changed.
Over the last ten years Criterion has gotten a little bigger and a lot better. We’ve only grown by about twenty people, but as a result we can do so much that we could never do before. Today we’re an all-digital shop, doing high-definition restoration in-house, and pairing the best group of producers, editors, and designers we’ve ever had with some of the top writers, scholars, and artists in the world. When I started we could never have produced a disc set as complicated as, say, The Battle of Algiers. Just compare the old Seven Samurai to the new one to see what I’m talking about. It’s not that I want to go back. But I do want to make sure that we don’t lose track of the fact that we’re a small company doing something we believe in, and that we’re lucky enough to have an audience of people who care. That’s who this blog is for.
In the past, we’ve mostly communicated with our customers through Jon Mulvaney, the company’s legendary second-oldest employee. Maybe I’ll write more about him another time, but I know that Mulvaney has been a hit-or-miss correspondent over the years. We get questions all the time that Mulvaney has to leave unanswered, because his job, really, is making sure that when a customer has a damaged disc or a missing insert or the wrong slipcase, we fix the problem. One gap he’s never been able to fill—we’ve never let him—is about goings on at Criterion, what’s in the future, what our thoughts are. That’s what this blog is for.
As with anything Criterion does, it’s going to take some time to get this right. We’ll try to be regular about it. Check back on Tuesdays and Fridays (and maybe certain other days) for new posts by me, Jonathan Turell, and occasional guest bloggers from the Criterion staff.