What was once rumor and speculation has now been confirmed: a Sony Criterion Collection partnership has begun that will give both companies an unprecedented advantage in the home video distribution market at a time when such an advantage is desperately needed.

According to sources familiar with the partnership, Sony will be handling the distribution, replication, inventory management, shipping and accounts receivable for all Criterion Collection releases for the next few years.  Of course this is all back end detail and what movie fans really want to know is whether or not Criterion will be granted access to Sony’s enormous library of films: no one seems to know for sure, but certainly the deal can’t hurt.

Criterion has already released Sony owned content in the past and while we don’t quite know exactly what goes on behind the scenes as far as acquisition of content goes, it’s safe to assume that there are negotiations going on somewhere along those lines.

Criterion CEO Jonathan Turell said of the deal “We’re proud to release many great films from Sony’s library in Criterion and very much look forward to continuing our long relationship. We think they are an ideal partner as we look forward to expanding our direct relationships with our key customers.

Previously Image Entertainment had manufactured and managed the hard media on behalf of Criterion but none of their people responded to our request for comment. As far as pricing goes, Criterion fanatics are split in their speculation, some are positive the new deal will increase the cost of what are regarded as higher priced collectible discs, while others suggest it could mean more reasonably priced releases. I suppose it’s just a matter of whether or not you’re willing to pay $40 to have access to a full fledged Ghostbusters II Criterion set. After all, it truly is up to the consumer – in the long run.