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FilmStruck may still have a future as filmmakers rally to save it

Offering close to 2,000 classic, cult, and art-house movies, as well as serving as the exclusive internet-streaming home to the Criterion Collection, FilmStruck was the streaming-service of choice for cinephiles, but sadly, Turner and WarnerMedia announced last month that FilmStruck would be coming to an end. "We’re incredibly proud of the creativity and innovations produced by the talented and dedicated teams who worked on FilmStruck over the past two years," Turner and WarnerMedia said in a statement. "While FilmStruck has a very loyal fanbase, it remains largely a niche service. We plan to take key learnings from FilmStruck to help shape future business decisions in the direct-to-consumer space and redirect this investment back into our collective portfolios."

This obviously came as a bit of a blow to those invested in streaming classic movies, but the campaign to save FilmStruck began almost immediately with a petition making the rounds which has gathered over 54,000 signatures so far. Many filmmakers, such as Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, have passionately urged WarnerMedia to reconsider, with even more filmmakers banding together and signing two open-letters voicing their support. Here's the first letter:

Dear Toby [Emmerich],

We know that Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese have been in touch with you and Warners Media Group about the demise of FilmStruck and have urged you guys to keep it going.

While it was not your decision, we would like to loudly echo their sentiments. The FilmStruck service was (IS) the best streaming service for fans of cinema of all kinds: classic studio movies, independent cinema, international treasures. Without it, the landscape for film fans and students of cinema is especially bleak. There’s a reason there was a huge outpouring from artists and fans over it being shuttered, they were doing the Movie God’s work.

We know one of the reasons that it has been shut down is because of an upcoming Warners streaming service, but really FilmStruck shouldn’t be a conflict of interest. In this day and age where there are dozens of platforms, curation of content is really important and FilmStruck was providing a service to both satisfy older fans of cinema and a younger generation of cineastes that will be making amazing movies long after we’re dead.

In an era of huge corporate acquisitions of cinema by communication companies- in a business that may render billions of dollars off a medium like cinema, we believe this is a gesture that is needed- a minuscule show of goodwill towards the preservation and accesibility of a tradition and a rich history that would benefit the public.

So we want to add our names to the petition started by Marty and Steven and want you (and Warners) to know that we feel equally strongly and would do anything to support the service being saved.

Yours,

Paul Thomas Anderson, Ana Lily Amirpour, James Brolin, Damien Chazelle, Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo Del Toro, Leonardo DiCaprio, James Gray, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Bill Hader, Karyn Kusama, Barry Jenkins, Rian Johnson, Christopher McQuarrie, Reed Morano, Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Barbra Streisand, and Edgar Wright.

And the second letter:

To whom it may concern at Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks:

Roger Ebert once said “the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us.”

No truer words.

Though we live in a world with increasing ways to view content, the range of content and the variety of storytellers has remained, sadly, limited.

In its short two years of existence FilmStruck was a machine that generated empathy by curating not only classic Hollywood films, but by streaming and highlighting world cinema, cinema by female, traditionally disenfranchised, and LGBT filmmakers and storytellers. FilmStruck added a depth, breadth and richness to the viewing experience that had not previously been attempted, and may – fearfully – disappear permanently with FilmStruck’s demise.

We the undersigned respectfully ask Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks to please reconsider their plans for FilmStruck. While we understand that “business” has always been a part of “show business,” we would hope that if FilmStruck cannot be continued in its present form, it would be allowed to function until such a time as a suitable, and suitably robust, replacement can be launched.

We hope that Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks will pause to recognize what an extraordinary accomplishment FilmStruck is. Equally, we hope the powers that be will consider maintaining what has become a significant film site for true enthusiasts of the moving image.

Respectfully yours:

John Ridley, David Oyelowo, So Yong Kim, Rachel Morrison, Malcolm D Lee, Nicole Kassell, Mark Johnson, Hank Corwin, Nicholas Britell, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, Billy Ray, Eric Roth, Sofia Coppola, Lenny Abrahamson, Freida Pinto, Nina Jacobson, Luke Davies, Mira Nair, Lydia Dean Pilcher, Jason Hall, Graham Moore, Liz Hannah, Jay Cassidy, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve Golin, Susanne Bier, Elizabeth Cantillon, Brad Weston, Sam Taylor Johnson, and Vidiots Foundation.

At the moment, FilmStruck is still slated to close its digital doors on November 29th, but according to Deadline, the streaming service's future is looking slightly less bleak. As a result of the two letters, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey is said to be working on a compromise, and that a "new iteration" of FilmStruck (although it may not be called that) is in the cards. However, this new iteration is still a long ways off as it's said that it will be part of a "package of streaming services" from WarnerMedia which is scheduled to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2019. Looks like you'll have to get your classic movies fix elsewhere until then, although Deadline notes that continuing to keep the pressure on WarnerMedia might just quicken the pace.

Source: Deadline

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