Traditional TV is stepping up its efforts to serve up some comfort food during the COVID-19 crisis. The latest example: CBS is dusting off its Sunday night movie franchise — dormant since 2006 — and reinventing it as a showcase for classic blockbusters. Scheduled to run for five weeks, the rebooted CBS Sunday Night at the Movies kicks off May 3 at 8 p.m. with a presentation of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’ll be followed by Forrest Gump (May 10), Mission: Impossible (May 17), Titanic (May 24), and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (May 31.) “It’s a five-week programming event with epic films, iconic stars and brilliant stories that viewers love … and love to watch together,” said Noriko Kelley, CBS’s executive VP of program planning and scheduling.
Beyond being perfect pandemic programming — let’s face it, we’ll all likely still be spending a lot of time indoors next month — the move is also a big synergy play. All the titles in the new CBS movie franchise come from Paramount Pictures, part of the newly reunited ViacomCBS family. The move also helps the Eye fill the gap left by a number of its dramas ending productions of their current seasons a few weeks early due to the shutdown of production caused by coronavirus concerns. Hopefully, it will also give CBS a reason to dust off this classic intro.
Industry insiders tell Vulture many networks are currently looking to their libraries (and their sister networks) to see what sorts of throwback programming they might air to either make up for the loss of new programs or generate interest at a time when audiences are watching more TV. ABC recently started airing classic episodes of its soap General Hospital on Fridays. And also Tuesday, cable’s SyFy said it would begin doing marathons of Xena: Warrior Princess on Thursdays, with star Lucy Lawless providing intros.
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