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File:Criterion logo 2662.jpg
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents..."
—The back of every Criterion release ever

The Criterion Collection is a series of video releases of, in its words, "important classic and contemporary films". Its first releases were LaserDiscs of Citizen Kane and King Kong; it currently releases DVD and Blu-ray editions of films. The films the above description covers range from Cult Classics to internationally acknowledged masterpieces, and from the silent era to the Present Day; no genre or country of origin is left unturned.

Since its founding in 1984 by arthouse film distributor Janus Films, Criterion pioneered much of what is now taken for granted on DVD and Blu-ray releases: the use of letterboxing to preserve the correct Aspect Ratio of a film, audio commentaries (which they essentially created on the laserdisc of King Kong), director's cuts, and including supplemental materials. And when it comes to supplements, they have supplements — every trailer and TV spot that can be scrounged up, vintage and new documentaries, thick booklets of critical essays — even print copies of the source material if the film was an adaptation of a short story or novel... Criterion are also noted for the intense care they take to clean up the film prints and for the quality of their finished products.

Criterion licenses titles from their studios, so the releases occasionally go out of print... taking their bonus features with them. Also note that Up Marketing applies to the collection, due in part to the relatively small audiences for many of these films; with rare exceptions, a single-disc title is $30 (U.S.)...and many, many Criterion releases are multi-disc sets. Their "Essential Art House" line of discs offers a budget alternative — it consists of particularly famous Collection films without bonus features for $20 each. Another line, Eclipse, consists solely of box sets that collect such thematically linked titles as the more obscure work of particularly prolific major filmmakers (i.e., a set of early Ingmar Bergman titles), and the works of lesser-known but innovative ones.

As of 2011, and including titles no longer in print, the Criterion Collection has released 562 films on DVD. Each film has a spine number, ostensibly to denote the order in which Criterion released it to DVD. Updated versions of a Criterion release inherit the spine number from the previous version. For instance, Seven Samurai has a spine number of "2", denoting that it was the second DVD Criterion released (the first for those keeping score at home was Grand Illusion). When Criterion issued a three disc set for Seven Samurai in 2006, it supplanted that earlier (and now out of print) DVD from the late 90's.

Directors frequently included in the Criterion Collection:

All items (224)