Back in 2017, we introduced you to Primephonic, the Spotify for classical music.
And it turns out that there’s a movie equivalent of Primephonic. It’s called FilmStruck, and this streaming service specializes in classic movies. With Netflix focusing more on original content, FilmStruck may just be a viable alternative to Netflix for those of you who enjoy old cinema.
In this article, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about FilmStruck. What films are available? How much does it cost? What are its pros and cons? And what platforms is it available on? Let’s find out.
What Is FilmStruck?
FilmStruck is a subscription-based streaming service. It’s owned and operated by American satellite television network, Turner Classic Movies (TCM).
The service went live in November 2016, just seven months after it was announced.
At launch, there were only 500 films available to watch on FilmStruck. However, you can now find more than 1,600 movies on there, with more being added all the time. It can now claim to be the largest legally available repository of classic movies anywhere on the web.
What Films Are Available on FilmStruck?
You won’t find any modern movies on FilmStruck. The service focuses exclusively on classic films. There’s also a large selection of rare, foreign, arthouse, and independent movies. The films are divided into 16 genres:
- Classic Hollywood
- Science Fiction
TCM adds further value to the service with the inclusion of exclusive introductions, archive footage from the company’s vaults, and other bonus material.
FilmStruck adds new films every month. You can stay abreast of what’s arriving and what’s leaving on the service’s website.
The Criterion Collection
FilmStruck is also the home of the Criterion Collection. In case you’re not aware, the Criterion Collection licenses important pieces of cinema and makes them readily available to film fanatics. Until recently, Hulu (is Hulu Plus worth the money?) oversaw distribution of the collection in the United States, but FilmStruck won the rights not long after its launch.
The Criterion Collection is home to many directors from Hollywood’s “Golden Age”, including Jean-Luc Godard, Shirley Clarke, Jane Campion, Frank Borzage, Agnes Varda, and Francois Truffaut.
Furthermore, it plays host to some of the most essential movies in cinematic history. Eraserhead, Dogtooth, Stalker, Breathless, Grey Gardens, Stagecoach, and Sweetie are all available. In total, the collection boasts more than 1,000 films.
The Criterion Collection also includes some original content such as “Meet the Filmmaker” and “Adventures in Moviegoing,” as well as a series of micro-lectures and thematic programming (such as double features on Fridays).
Are There Any Downsides to FilmStruck?
The most significant downside we could find on the service was its lack of support for offline viewing. Unlike Netflix, which lets you download movies to watch offline, FilmStruck’s approach means you won’t be able to load up on content before a long journey. FilmStruck has not given any indication that offline viewing is in the works either, so don’t hold your breath.
Some users have also reported that streams are choppy and pixelated on some set-top streaming devices; most notably on the Amazon Fire Stick. We could not replicate this behavior ourselves, but it’s something you should bear in mind before subscribing.
Additionally, the user interface could be better. Presumably because of the licensing agreements in place with the Criterion Collection, there is no way to see all the films in a particular genre at the same time. Instead, you need to jump between TCM’s movies and the collection’s movies using the on-screen tabs.
Lastly, content discovery is a chore. The service lacks personalized recommendations and other associated features. The bar is set pretty low in this regard—Netflix is so bad at surfacing great content that we use secret Netflix codes instead—but FilmStruck is just as disappointing in this regard.
How Much Does FilmStruck Cost?
FilmStruck offers four different price plans.
The entry-level plan costs $6.99/month. This includes access to TCM’s movie collection as well as the archive footage and special features.
If you want to watch content in the Criterion Collection, you will need to upgrade to the next tier costing $10.99/month.
You can save money on the Criterion Collection by using the third plan. This one offers annual billing of $99/year, which equates to $8.25/month.
The final plan is only available to students and educators, and costs $39.99 for six months.
FilmStruck offers a 14-day trial for all four plans. You can pay for the service using Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, and PayPal.
What Platforms Is FilmStruck Available On?
You can watch FilmStruck on most devices you can think of. There’s a web player and an app for both Android and iOS. It’s also available on most dedicated streaming devices, including Roku, Android TV, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast.
Where Is FilmStruck Available?
For most of its life, FilmStruck has only been available in the United States. However, since January 2018, the service has also been available in the United Kingdom.
In the UK, the service is branded as FilmStruck Curzon after TCM struck a deal with the cinema operator.
In a statement at the time, TCM’s Executive Vice President, Aksel van der Wal, said his company would add more international markets over the next two years. The company already has significant international streaming experience thanks to its operation of El Plus in Brazil and Toonix in Scandinavia.
Will You Sign Up to FilmStruck?
It’s hard to deny that FilmStruck offers an enticing proposition for classic movie fans. So if you’re a movie aficionado who has a spare $10 burning a hole in your pocket every month, you should definitely sign up. If you prefer modern movies or content you can’t watch elsewhere, other streaming services are available.