More OOP Criterions Announced

In the middle of June, Criterion announced another set of titles headed for deletion status. According to their website, the following titles - DVD plus one Blu-ray - will be out of print as of June 30th:

Billy Liar

Bob le flambeur

Diary of a Chambermaid

Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The

Kind Hearts and Coronets

Man Who Fell to Earth, The --- DVD + Blu-ray

Milky Way, The

Phantom of Liberty, The

That Obscure Object of Desire

Touchez pas au grisbi

Woman is a Woman, A

Some Canadians will note many of these titles were always imports from the U.S., as they either had no domestic distributor, or the rights holder chose not to carry the import editions.

This is hardly a new thing in the home video realm, but perhaps what's surprising is how the window of rights seems to feel more narrow. The impression is that some corporate owners don't want a title tied up for more than 2-3 years with a third party licencee.

What may also be happening is Criterion, for better or worse, is being used as a testing ground by some to see whether there is a demand in Region 1 land for films by a specific drector or from a specific genre. Should a work prove to be commercially viable, the owners can put out their own transfers - taking advantage of the latest technological improvements - and create their own custom edition, with the option of licensing some of the special content materials created by Criterion.

(It wouldn't be surprising, either, for more savvy labels to inlcude in the the use of Criterion extras in their own editions, perhaps as a bargaining tool by allowing Criterion to include a title in their catalogue.)

In any event, those are the latest deletions, and already some have started flinging mud (see comments on the Criterion site) at the alleged rights holder / owner, Lionsgate, for what some feel is an act of betrayal towards the collector. It's not good that these films may remain unavailable for a while, but most of the titles from the last wave of OOP Criterions (Third Man excepted) are still easy to find, so collectors should still be able to pick up their missing editions before supplies run dry.

On the flip-side, Criterion's next wave of titles include Terence Malick's The Thin Blue Line (which I hope will bring back into print, and in widescreen, Andre Marton's 1964 version); Nagisa Oshima's Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, Three Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg (Underworld, The Last Command, and The Docks of New York), Maurice Pialat's L'enfance nue, Terry Zwigoff's Louis Blue and a new special edition of Crumb, and Abdellatif Kechiche The Secret of the Grain.

The label's latest wave of titles include Jan Troell's Everlasting Moments, Carol Reed's Night Train to Munich, and Luchino Viscont's The Leopard making its debut on Blu-ray.

It balances out a bit, right?

Mark R. Hasan, Editor


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