saw the news Tuesday that a new package of movie channels is coming to Canada. Hollywood Suite is from a few of the restless suits who ran CHUM back in the day. It will offer uncut movies in high definition across four different channels. Content deals have already been made with Warners and MGM to flow around 450 different titles across the various HS platforms every month.
My first reaction, being a Turner Classic Movies devotee, was does this mean blackouts on TCM? Never, says former MuchMusic GM David Kines, one of the brains behind the new HS operation. Hollywood Suite has non-exclusive deals, so go watch your Robert Osborne marathons in peace.
My second (actually very first) thought was does Canada need more movie channels? The answer is yes for several reasons but mainly they can be boiled down to choice, variety and price. When the carriage deals are done and these channels start being offered on cable and satellite (as early as November), the Hollywood Suite bundle (Warner Films, MGM Channel, Hollywood Storm, Hollywood Festival) will be available on the high-def tier and will cost less than pricier pay-TV services such as The Movie Network, Movie Central or Super Channel.
Right now, those services are the only places you can get uncut movie gems, other than good old TCM or TVO’s Saturday Night at the Movies. TMN and the others will still be the only place to see uncut movies just a few months removed from their theatrical releases. The Hollywood Suite fare will be stuff you never got around to seeing last year, or classic fare from the MGM and Warner vaults.
The other thing is choice. Besides commercial interruption, channels such as Showcase Diva or Action seem to show the same 15 movies over and over again. So does AMC, and while we’re at it, why do they interrupt their films to keep telling us we’re watching AMC?? Commercials I get but screwing with movie flow just to plug the network?
CHCH shows films but the tired prints look like they’re being projected through a silk stocking with a leg still in it. Comedy Gold on the weekend literally seems to rerun the same five films: The Breakfast Club, Caddy Shack--say them with me. I have more comedy features in my basement on 16mm! Many of the Shaw-owned specialty channels are now so clogged with NCIS reruns I forget if they ever had movies on them to begin with. I swear I saw NCIS on the Food Network last week. Other channels that used to run quirkier movies, such as Drive-In, have disappeared.
The Hollywood Suite boys swear they’ll run their films uncut, in HD and mix things up—good news for film buffs. They’ll also offer the whole deal across platforms like iphones and ipads for those that like to squint their way through all those Harry Potter films (especially “Harry Potter and the Eye-strain Conniption”).
Pricing will be announced closer to launch, but look for HS to be more in range with what Netflix is asking than TMN.
Netflix and various on-demand services such as Rogers on Demand seem to me to be Toronto-based Hollywood Suite’s main competition (along with, well, stealing films off the Internet), but more choice is good, especially in Hi-Def and especially for consumers spooked by the extra step (and cost) associated with punching numbers into an on-demand account.