Criterion Collection LaserDiscs

Yes it's true: Ghostbusters is in the Criterion Collection!

Launching on LaserDisc in the 80s, The Criterion Collection originally released both art films and mainstream movies alike, but with the release of the DVD format the company rebranded itself as a label for more discriminating connoisseurs of cinema. In its efforts to hipsterize itself Criterion re-released the more obscure movies on DVD and eventually quietly deleted any mention of LaserDiscs on their website, effectively pretending that they didn't exist. Luckily the internet never forgets...

This is a list of all the Criterion LD releases that have not been re-released by Criterion on DVD or Blu-ray. These movies almost never make Criterion Collection lists and for good reason, either people don't know about them or they feel they don't belong with the current collection (I agree). But these were all given the Criterion treatment, with a great deal of care taken in the transfer, and more importantly they were released with a wealth of special features that are no longer available. As such the original discs can command quite high prices, especially early pressings of the first three James Bond films which contain a series of highly unflattering crew audio commentaries that caused EON Productions to demand that Criterion recall all unsold copies.

It's a decidedly more mainstream collection than is usually associated with Criterion, and while it does contain some obscure gems, I personally derive a great deal of satisfaction from knowing that Jackie Chan has a place within one of cinema's most cherished institutions.

NOTES
#7 and #8 have been released on DVD under the Janus label.
#87 #116 and #135 have been released on DVD under the Eclipse label.
#137 onwards are LaserDiscs that were announced by Criterion but never officially released.

5 Comments

  • you'd think they'd want to include films like Nostalghia or The Life of Oharu in the collection over films like Armageddon and Robocop

    Oh they do...

    When they started releasing DVDs I think they were still operating under the same mentality as they had been with LDs for a short while - Armageddon and RoboCop being two of their earliest DVD releases. Now that those movies are "too mainstream" I bet they kick themselves every time they think about it.

    The Armageddon essay on their website is pretty funny. It's like a letter to disapproving cineastes where they try desperately (and unconvincingly) to defend their decision to include it.

    I wonder if they still own the rights to any of these films and are just waiting to re-distribute them at a later time

    If they do, I think they'd probably only re-release the more "prestigious" ones to fit the brand. I'm not sure why they haven't re-released Oharu or Nostalghia but I'm sure it's purely due to commercial considerations.

  • Why don't they rerelease Dersu Uzala? It's definintely in my top 3 Kurosawa films. I tried to buy a KINO version on DVD but it ended up pixelizing the frame rate and disorting the picture at around the tenth chapter and had to return it.

  • It's a mystery for the ages!

    Criterion actually has been slowly re-releasing some of these movies on BD though (recently announcing Oharu!), so they might get around to Dersu Uzala one day...

  • There was a lot of mainstream, but the rights available as there wasn't much sell-through in VHS. For the most part Criterion treated those films better than most of those studio's have till this day. It's unfortunate they don't have the rights to release these on Blu or DVD.

    Even though there was a lot of well known titles, I think the breathe was a little wider then. Musicals, anime, early films from mainstream directors, extreme genre pics, film noir, franchises in addition to more prominent foreign and domestic.

    I have sold off most of my lasers, but I have kept all my Criterion's. A lot of the material has never surfaced anywhere else. Columbia paid a hefty price tag in film rights to acquire the Taxi Driver commentary. I loved them then, and I love them now.

    Overseas distributers such as Arrow, Eureka and even some of our own studios release much more 'packed' and truly prestige versions of american films then we get here. Maybe when the studios pump out their catalog titles they think are worth something, they will lose interest in anything but new releases and Criterion, Olive, Shout Factory, Severin and others with acquire the rights to more films and do them justice.

  • Finally updated! Titles removed:

    La Cage aux Folles
    Sunday Bloody Sunday
    Purple Noon
    Oharu
    Breaking the Waves
    The Game
    On the Waterfront

    @Cinemonster: here's hoping.

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