Zazou dans le Metro wrote:
maybe the Essential line now paves the way for a less cultish Eclipse option for more classic titles that would otherwise not fit any particular bill/price structure.
I hope so, too. But then I wonder why they didn't simply create another line; I never really bothered to look at the Essential line before, seeing that these were all stripped-down releases of films available in the CC line. I always regarded the extras and the booklets as essential features of the original releases, and wouldn't even want to think of a barebones "Tales of Hoffmann" without "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and audiocommentary, for instance. In other words: the four new films being dumped into Essential might even get less attention than if they were Eclipse releases. In any case, CC should decide whether they want Essential to be a cheapo re-release line or a line of exclusive, though barebones releases from now on. The situation as it is now is simply rather confusing.
My uninformed spin on this is that I think the recession is catching up with Criterion...with production costs going up, customers reluctant to buy...Criterion isn't immune from the vagaries of the economy. As a result, for the near future I am surmising we are going to see main line Criterion releases in twos rather than announcements of four or five at a time.
Undoubtedly, Criterion likely has a huge library of films that either don't justify the economics of a full-fledged release or the elements aren't available for a pristine transfer. Many of those releases aren't appropriate for whatever reason for an Eclipse box. I anticipate seeing some of these coming out on an irregular basis under the Essential Art House line. I'm sure that sometime in the future things might change to warrant a regular Criterion release for some of these titles.
After all, Criterion has done some profitable business re-issuing titles from the regular line...clearly they see some future in continuing that. In the interim, however, we'll continue seeing these odd titles pop up on occasion under EAH.