Criterion Lays Off 20 Percent of Staff in ‘Reorganization’ Move

Criterion Collection president Peter Becker told IndieWire the layoffs were "meant to prepare the company for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead."
Criterion Collection
Criterion Collection
Criterion Collection

Criterion has let go a number of staffers in a “reorganization” of the company that took place on Wednesday, October 19.

Criterion Collection President Peter Becker told IndieWire that the layoffs affected several departments — and about 20 percent of the company, with 16 employees laid off from a staff of over 80.

“Yesterday was a sad day at Criterion,” Becker said via email. “We had to part ways with a number of staffers across several departments as part of a reorganization intended to prepare the company for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, which are markedly different from the ones we had built ourselves up to address in the past.”

He added that there were no further staff changes planned. “We spoke personally with everyone impacted to express the company’s respect and our gratitude for their work, of which we all remain very proud,” he said.

Criterion representatives declined to comment further on which departments specifically were affected.

The Criterion Collection was founded in 1984 and had a round of layoffs in 2013. Per the official website, Criterion has been dedicated to publishing important classic and contemporary films from around the world in editions that offer the highest technical quality and award-winning, original supplements. Criterion also launched its streaming service, Criterion Channel, in 2019. The service regularly offers films from its own vault as well as new monthly streaming picks and exclusive premieres. “Our goal is to make a service that is sustainable,” Becker told IndieWire when the platform launched. “We never had particular growth targets. I don’t think that our motivation is fundamentally market-oriented at all.”

Criterion’s parent company, Janus Films, releases foreign, independent, and restored films in theaters. “No matter the medium — from laserdisc to DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD to streaming — Criterion has maintained its pioneering commitment to presenting each film as its maker would want it seen, in state-of-the-art restorations with special features designed to encourage repeated watching and deepen the viewer’s appreciation of the art of film,” the company mission states.

Janus is also partners with Sideshow on the distribution of new releases, including last year’s Oscar winner “Drive My Car.” This year, Janus and Sideshow acquired several films out of the festival circuit, including the Dardenne brothers’ “Tori and Lokita,” the documentary “All That Breathes,” and Jerzy Skolimowski’s Cannes-winning “EO.”

Additional reporting by Eric Kohn. 

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