Lots Of Criterion / Eclipse / Essential Art House Films To Go Out Of Print This March [Criterion OOP]

February 2nd, 2010 was a day of announcements.  Being on the West Coast, I awoke to a string of news articles.  After my first ten minutes of consciousness, I had already been underwhelmed by the predictability of the  82nd-annual Academy Awards nominations, infuriated by the promise of more blistering winter at the hands of  Punxsatawney Phil, and deeply saddened by Criterion’s announcement that  Lionsgate had purchased a slew of their StudioCanal films from right out of the Collection.  These titles will be going out of print by the end of March, so here is the heartbreaking list.  Criterion has been kind enough to let us know ahead of time, and to knock five bucks off the price.  They’re priced to move, and all items must go.

#001  Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937) — DVD and Essential Art House

#025  Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) — DVD

#058  Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960) — DVD

#066-069  The Orphic Trilogy (Jean Cocteau, 1930-1959) — DVD

#081  Variety Lights (Federico Fellini & Alberto Lattuada, 1950) — DVD Essential Art House Vol. 3 (DVD is already OOP)

#106  Coup de Torchon (Bertrand Taverneir, 1981) — DVD

#129  Le Trou (Jacques Becker, 1960) — DVD

#189  The White Sheik (Federico Fellini, 1952) — DVD

#193  Quai des Orfèvres (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1947) — DVD

#222  Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951) — DVD

#227  Le Corbeau (Henri-George Clouzot, 1943) — DVD

#245  Port of Shadows (Marcel Carne, 1938) — DVD

#317  The Tales of Hoffman (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1951) — DVD and Essential Art House Vol. 4

#318  Forbidden Games (Rene Clement, 1952) — DVD and Essential Art House Vol. 3

#357  The Fallen Idol (Carol Reed, 1948) — DVD

#421  Pierrot Le Fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) — DVD and Blu-Ray

#439  Trafic (Jacques Tati, 1971) — DVD

#441  The Small Back Room (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1949) — DVD

Eclipse Series 6:  Carlos Saura’s Flamenco Trilogy (Blood Wedding, Carmen, El Amor Brujo)

Last Holiday (Henry Cass, 1950) — Essential Art House Volume 3

Gervaise (Rene Clement, 1956) — Essential Art House Volume 4

Le Jour Se Leve (Marcel Carne, 1939) — Essential Art House Volume 4

Mayerling (Antoine Litvak, 1936) — Essential Art House Volume 4

C’est la vie.  Lionsgate has swiped, among other treasures:  Criterion’s Spine Number 1, Criterion’s last available Carol Reed, 2/4 of Criterion’s Clouzot, and (in my opinion) the only good Bresson film.  We’re left with more questions than answers:

  • Will the  50 Years of Janus Films collection be going out of print now that many of its titles are no longer under the umbrella?
  • How did this transaction play out behind the scenes?  Is there any bad blood between Criterion and Lionsgate?
  • What are the odds that Criterion will someday recover these titles?
  • Is this just the first wave of several?
  • Will Lionsgate change its name to “Le Porte Des Lions” now that it has so many French films in its catalog?

My question to you, dear readers:

Which titles will you be purchasing before their disappearance?

Personally, I will be getting The Grand Illusion with my next paycheck, Le Trou with the paycheck after that, and hoping I’ll get a substantial tax return and can pick up The Orphic Trilogy before time runs out.  Leave us your feedback and let us know which you are choosing to buy, and why.

[Note from the Editor: You can find our earlier announcement of Lionsgate’s plans to release Ran and Contempt on Blu-ray here]

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14 Comments

  • I already own all of the soon to be OOP Criterions except Coup de Torchon, and I ordered that yesterday, along with the Pierrot le Fou bluray, just because I don't want to miss the opportunity to get it as cheap as it will ever be. I don't own the Flamenco trilogy or any of the Essential Art House films. Since they are each bare-bones discs, I am going to let them pass for now. I don't expect the secondary market value to skyrocket on those so fast, especially if Lionsgate releases them in competing editions. Grand Illusion is such a great loss to the collection – I have it playing right now. I consider a singular act of disrespect that Lionsgate would force Criterion to delete this foundational film from their collection. Even if they wanted to release their version own on Bluray or something, let Criterion keep it's #1!

  • Hi Travis, I will go for Grand Illusion even though I have it in the 50 Years Box,
    Diary of a Country Priest, Peeping Tom,Alphaville, The Orphic Trilogy, Variety LIghts and the Flamenco Trilogy………Thank God there are no debtors prisons…..Rob

  • As soon as I saw this article I ordered the Pierrot le Fou blu ray, and hopefully will be able to buy a few more before the end of March. This is just ridiculous for Criterion to have to give these films up to Lionsgate of all places.

  • The only one that I really want to make sure I pick up is Grand Illusion, because I have been meaning to get it for years, and this is a good reason to go for it now. In addition, I have been really interested in Mayerling and the Carlos Saura Eclipse, but I don't know if they are worth getting, sight-unseen. Does anyone have any thoughts on those two?

    The enormity of this list is quite a shame and I hope it's just a one time thing. It hurts my soul.

  • @tylermays, I suggest that you check out clips on YouTube to see what you think about the films you mention. I checked out clips from the Flamenco trilogy and decided that I could probably live without owning it. I'm a Criterion completist myself so I intend to get 'em all, but for practical reasons I won't extend that to Eclipse. Here's a link for a decent quality clip of Saura's Blood Wedding:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWvM2VlRD6k

  • Ouch. All I can say is that I hope that Criterion picks up the pace on their magnificent blu-ray releasing of collection titles before the library is further eroded!

  • The only one that I really want to make sure I pick up is Grand Illusion, because I have been meaning to get it for years, and this is a good reason to go for it now. In addition, I have been really interested in Mayerling and the Carlos Saura Eclipse, but I don't know if they are worth getting, sight-unseen. Does anyone have any thoughts on those two?

    The enormity of this list is quite a shame and I hope it's just a one time thing. It hurts my soul.

  • @tylermays, I suggest that you check out clips on YouTube to see what you think about the films you mention. I checked out clips from the Flamenco trilogy and decided that I could probably live without owning it. I'm a Criterion completist myself so I intend to get 'em all, but for practical reasons I won't extend that to Eclipse. Here's a link for a decent quality clip of Saura's Blood Wedding:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWvM2VlRD6k

  • Ouch. All I can say is that I hope that Criterion picks up the pace on their magnificent blu-ray releasing of collection titles before the library is further eroded!

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