Orson Welles’ epic 1941 drama Citizen Kane has been called the greatest movie ever made. How do you measure up to that if you’re in charge of designing a new cover for the classic? Maybe you put a big “K” on a black background and call it done.
The Criterion Collection — famous for high-end re-releases of classic and modern movies — announced a new 4K Ultra HD version of Citizen Kane. The minimalist cover features a bold “K” and not much else. Twitter denizens have been teasing Criterion in earnest since the cover reveal on Monday.
“The Criterion cover for Citizen Kane is beautiful you guys just can’t appreciate minimalism,” said one Twitter user, who compared the cover to a box of Kellogg’s Special K serial, which is actually much more colorful than Criterion’s stark take on the 11th letter in the modern English alphabet.
Another Twitter uses slapped a “parental advisory explicit content” warning label on the cover and said, “Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane about to be the album of the year. check it out, from Criterion Records this fall” with a couple of fire emoji for emphasis.
The cover might end up becoming a must-have accessory for baseball fans. “Me and the boys taking our Citizen Kane Criterion to the ballpark and raising one after every strikeout,” quipped a Twitter user. For those of you who don’t follow baseball, “K” is shorthand for a strikeout.
Simpsons fans will recognize a reworked reference to Lisa Simpson pointing out “the cane from Citizen Kane.”
In that same spirit, a Twitter user named Chad Awesomington offered up a redesign starring a cane.
Not everyone agreed with the thumbs-down opinion on the cover design. Film critic Robert Daniels came to its defense, tweeting, “The cover for the Citizen Kane 4K Criterion Collection release is perfect. I will hear nothing else on the matter.”
Daniels explained further: “To me, the simplicity of the cover speaks to the power, influence, and reach of Citizen Kane. They’re so great in magnitude, why would you need anything else?”
Criterion calls the film “the most dazzling debut feature in cinema history.” According to film reviews site Rotten Tomatoes, Citizen Kane is only the fourth best movie of all time based on Tomatometer scores. It was once even (in the realm of Rotten Tomatoes, at least).
Ultimately, the cover design is just window dressing. What really matters is what’s inside. For Criterion, that means audio commentaries, a BBC documentary, archival interviews with the cast and a host of other extras designed to make classic movie buffs swoon.
Criterion’s 4K Citizen Kane will be released on Nov. 23. If you haven’t seen it yet, that would be a great time to dip your toes into cinema history. I promise not to spoil what “Rosebud” means.