The Criterion Collection

From Audiovisual Identity Database

Logo descriptions by
Michael Bass

Logo captures by
Eric S., Stephen Cezar and Derrick Anderson

Video captures courtesy of
Eric S., Michel's Tech Reviews and LogosForTheWin


The Criterion Collection (or just "Criterion") is a company owned by Jonathan B. Turell and Peter Becker, sons of Janus Films owners Saul J. Turell and William Becker, respectively. The Criterion Collection produces direct-to-video documentaries and distributes DVDs of art and important films. They were one of the first home video companies to add special features to Laserdisc releases, which would later become the standard for the DVD market.

1st Logo (December 3, 1984-1996, 1999)

Logo: On a black background, a thick white line is seen, curving from a backwards "C" into a diagonal line that goes downwards on the far edge of it. Several smaller white curves can also be seen in varying heights also forming, which appear to form pages of a book. Below it is "Criterion" in a thin Courier font, along with a line. The stacked text "THE CRITERION COLLECTION a joint venture of JANUS FILMS and VOYAGER PRESS" can be seen in a smaller print.


  • The logo may be seen on a black square against a dark grey background
  • Some releases have the logo smaller, without the line and text below it, and placed inside a white box with a white drop shadow below it. This is the print logo seen during the time.
  • On later releases, the logo is placed on a blue/black gradient background and is colored in a metallic silver. The entire thing is also surrounded in a silver border, leaving a shadow on the bottom right.

FX/SFX: None.

Music/Sounds: None.

Availability: Rare, as this only appears on Laserdisc releases. Look for the Criterion heading on the sleeve for this logo. Examples include Akira, The Killer, Citizen Kane (the very first Criterion release, it so happens, along with King Kong), and Hard Boiled, among others. This was strangely seen on the 1999 DVD of Fishing With John by going through the disc's VOB files (the 4th logo only appears during normal playback).

2nd Logo (1994?)


Logo: On a black background, the word "CRITERION" in red flips to the left and stop in place at an angle. As this happens, a gray background which has several titles of Criterion releases, sliding to the left, fades in.

FX/SFX: The flipping of the word, fading of the background, movement of the words in the background.

Music/Sounds: None.

Availability: Rare. Appears on the Criterion laserdisc of Halloween (1978).

3rd Logo (1995)


Logo: On a scratched metal background, a laserdisc appears and spins while zooming out, being partially transparent. As it collides with the background, the whole logo flashes, revealing an engraving of the Criterion logo (which glows for a bit before dying down) and a warped red object. The object then unfolds itself out into the word "CRITERION" in red with a white shadow.

FX/SFX: The laserdisc.

Music/Sounds: Whirring sounds, ending with a cymbal crash.

Availability: Rare. Appears on the Criterion laserdisc of RoboCop (1995).

Legacy: Very poor 2D/3D animation for 1995.

4th Logo (1996-1999)

Logo: On a black background, an strange-looking eye is seen, formed by a semicircle and 2 C's nestling within each other. "CRITERION COLLECTION" is seen above and below the eye.


  • A widescreen version exists, where the logo is just zoomed in to have the name cut off.
  • A special variant exists on the laserdisc and the 3-disc box set of Brazil. We start off zooming into a wall of drawer cabinets on the right, poorly illuminated by overhanging lights. As the camera rotates into them, a single one opens up, revealing a TV tube suspended inside it displaying a black Criterion Collection logo on a white background, and the camera pans to show it straight on. The image constantly moves.

FX/SFX: None.

Music/Sounds: None.

Availability: Rare. Appears on Laserdiscs and early DVDs from this era. DVD examples include And The Ship Sails On, and the rare releases of the John Woo films The Killer and Hard Boiled.

Legacy: The widescreen variant is a very poor example of how to do a widescreen logo.

5th Logo (2000-2007)

Logo: On a black background, the white text "THE CRITERION COLLECTION" is seen. Below the text, a white line wipes in from left to right which causes the logo to slowly shine as well.

FX/SFX: The line wiping in.

Music/Sounds: None.

Availability: Seen on Criterion DVDs from this era. Examples include Seven Samurai, Kagemusha, Three Women, Making Close Encounters, The Ruling Class, and RoboCop, among others.

6th Logo (December 11, 2007-)

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Logo: On a black background, a ring made of several tones of grey spins around, with the shapes getting different shape sizes. As they spin, "THE CRITERION COLLECTION" in grey slides up on its side before entering the ring, turning black as it enters it. It curves along the top edge and then disappears under one of the layers. As the rings slows to a halt, the darkest grey section splits and all the sections slide into each other, forming the current logo (which is a "C" tilted at about a 45 degree angle) in a solid grey color.

FX/SFX: The ring spinning, the name going up and disappearing, the forming of the logo. Designed by Paula Scher at Pentagram.

Music/Sounds: None; although it used a portion of the 1997 Universal fanfare at one point, due to goofy plastering. It does fit the logo, somehow.

Availability: Currently used on Criterion DVDs/Blu-rays such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Paris, Texas, Blow Out, The Honeymoon Killers, and The War Room among others. It first appeared on the 2007 release of Two-Lane Blacktop, while the print logo debuted on the single disc reissue of Faces. The plaster variant can be seen on a Blu-Ray release of Quadrophenia.