Today, the Criterion Collection launched a new feature, Online Cinematheque, that allows users to view films for $5 before they buy them.
The Criterion Collection is a home video distribution company that specializes in bringing seminal (and often difficult to obtain) films into personal collections. What makes Criterion releases unique and special is the quality of the release. Every film given the Criterion treatment turns out to be a beautiful product, from the packaging, art direction, menu design, film transfer, audio tracks to searching for lost and forgotten deleted scenes or interviews with the director. This quality product comes at a price, and that price is often double that of a standard edition DVD.
Because Criterion Collection films are often rare art house films, the ability to watch films online for $5 before deciding to lay down a decent amount of money on a movie you have never seen is a good idea. If you decide to buy the movie from the Criterion website, the $5 will be credited towards the cost of the DVD or Blu-ray.
It is refreshing to see the Criterion Collection exploring new distribution methods for important films and I hope other music and film companies follow their lead.