Rumor: Criterion To Release New Hollywood Box Set This November

Exciting news from the rumor mill! A trusted source buried deep in the business tells me that we should expect another box set this holiday season from the Criterion Collection.

This is still a rumor, and after digging around on the CriterionForum, it’s one that has been kicking around since at least last year, so keep that in mind.   I’m told that Criterion has just recently acquired the rights to several films from the producing duo: Bert Schneider (producer of Hearts and Minds and Days of Heaven) and Bob Rafelson, specifically Easy Rider and The Last Picture Show. With the recent passing of Dennis Hopper, it’ll be great to have him in one more film in the Collection.

This will most likely be a box set (5-7 films) from the New Hollywood era, produced by Schneider & Rafelson, so it’s safe to assume that Five Easy Pieces will most likely be a part of this set.

Some other tidbits that I was able to pry out of this rumor:

  • The box set (again, 5-7 films) will be released around November for a Holiday release (similar to Criterion’s mega Kurosawa set last winter)
  • The films will definitely be a Criterion release (not Eclipse) as there will be lots of supplemental materials included.
  • There will be a Blu-ray and DVD version of the set.
  • The films will not be available individually, only as the set.

So again, this is all just a rumor, but a very exciting rumor at that. With this release, Criterion is proving yet again, that collectible physical media is an important part of our modern culture, especially in terms of film appreciation. Yesterday we wrote about the Redbox CEO finding Netflix’s large library irrelevant and unnecessary, I would hate to hear his thoughts on a box set release like this.

What are your thoughts on this proposed set? Which films do you think will also be included?

[Update 6/7/10 – According to a user on CriterionForum.org, this rumor is indeed true. They claim the titles will be: Five Easy Pieces/ Head/ King of Marvin Gardens/ The Last Picture Show/ Easy Rider/ A Safe Place/ Drive, He Said.  Read the thread here.]

12 Comments

  • Holy smokes! Five Easy Pieces and The Last Picture Show were already part of the Criterion Collection in the laserdisc era (I still have my Last Picture Show LD — it has some cool extras that have never been released anywhere else), so it makes perfect sense to have them back in the fold. Getting Easy Rider would certainly be a feather in the cap; other interesting possibilities are Rafelson's The King Of Marvin Gardens, as well as early directorial efforts from Jack Nicholson (Drive, He Said) and Henry Jaglom (A Safe Place). And Hearts And Minds, which is already part of the Collection, was a BBS production, so it could be included as well.

    The significant part of this development is that it appears that Criterion and Columbia Pictures are really working together again; Bottle Rocket was a hopeful sign, but I am thus far unaware of any other Columbia product in the pipeline, and I had heard that there was a significant falling-out between the two entities in the LD era. This could pave the way to bring Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King, which has never had a decent DVD release, back into the Criterion Collection, as well as such LD-era Columbia titles as Jason And The Argonauts, Boyz N The Hood and sex, lies and videotape. Of even greater significance: now that we are seeing the home video market suffering from declining sales — not to mention Blu-Ray still not taking off as the studios had hoped — perhaps now, at last, the studios will be more willing to open their vaults to the Criterion Collection, and license some of their more important films to an organization that is willing to give those films a far better home video presentation than Hollywood is willing (or able) to do. In many instances, the studios have films that they could never successfully market to mainstream audiences which are perfectly suited to Criterion's target demographic.

    Who knows? This may be the dawn of an exciting new era for the discriminating cinephile. Hollywood could turn a potential loss into a gain by licensing some of their films to the Criterion Collection, and we Criterion fans can reap the benefits. Here's hoping!

  • This sounds great, but I'll be pissed if Easy Rider is fact…I love the film yet I just bought Sony's digi-book version. And the transfer is amazing. Dang it! This happened too when I bought Universal's Dazed and Confused DVD and a month later came the Criterion version!

  • A Peter Bogdanovich film in the Criterion Collection? They will have to convince Bogdanovich to discuss his movie in a featurette or record commentary. I cannot see him agreeing to this.

  • Bogdanovich did commentary for the DVD of The Last Picture Show that is currently available from Sony; in addition, the original Criterion laserdisc from 1991 contained a commentary track with Bogdanovich, Cybill Shepherd, Cloris Leachman, Randy Quaid and Frank Marshall.

  • I asked Mike Schlesinger at Columbia and he says that Sony still has the rights to all of these films and that your story is the first time he's heard of Criterion being involved in this project but that he'll look into this rumor when he returns to the office on Monday. Story sounds bogus to me.

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