The Criterion Collection to launch in UK April 18

Legendary US label to bring premium Blu-ray releases to Brit film fanatics

Good news for quality-obsessed home cinema fans – The Criterion Collection has today announced that it will be releasing Blu-rays in the UK. Previously, the label, which started life in the 1980s and released the first ever audio commentary on its 1984 Laserdisc release of King Kong, has been US/Canada-only, with releases Region A locked.

In a deal with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, a selection of titles from Criterion’s back-catalogue, plus future new releases, will be sold in the UK. The first wave of films, featuring all the bonus features from the US editions, is six-strong and arrives April 18. The titles are Speedy (1928), It Happened One Night (1934), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), The Tragedy of Macbeth (1971), Grey Gardens (1975) and Tootsie (1982).

In an interview with Criterion Collection CEO Jonathan Turell that will run in HCC 258 (March 17), the label boss explains his company's ethos: 'Every time we start work on a film, we track down the best available film elements in the world. We use state-of-the-art telecine equipment and a select few colourists capable of meeting our rigorous standards, then take time during the film-to-video digital transfer to create the most pristine possible image and sound.

'And whenever possible, we work with directors and cinematographers to ensure that the look of our releases does justice to their intentions.'

Turell also reveals that all the UK releases will share the same spine numbers as their US versions (good news for importers!), and rebuffed the notion that launching a new physical media label in the UK is a curious decision given the growth in streaming platforms: 'There's no doubt that the market is changing, but I believe we occupy a very important niche and this is an ideal time for those people who want to collect and hold these masterpieces in their hands.'