FLASH: Canwest to launch ‘blockbuster’ movie channel

A rebranding of Lonestar, the revamped ad venue will offer more than 250 recently released movies per month.

This afternoon, Canwest announced that it will launch MovieTime, a digital specialty service, on Oct. 6.

A rebranding and total revamp of Lonestar, the all-movie channel will feature mostly recently released, ‘adventure-style’ films – about 250 titles per month.

‘There are few things that generate as much excitement, delight and passion as people’s most-loved movies, and with MovieTime, we are thrilled to give audiences a one-stop channel to catch all their favourite hits,’ says Barb Williams, EVP, content, Canwest Broadcasting.

‘Lonestar was already successful,’ Williams explains, ‘but when we tested the concept of MovieTime, it was such a winner that we decided to rebrand the entire channel.’ MovieTime is geared toward adults 25-54.

The channel revamp sounds promising, PHD group media manager Christina Laczka tells MiC. ‘The new format to a digital station that offers movies all the time is very appealing. This will be one of the only Canadian stations that offers movies with commercial air time, unlike The Movie Network. MovieTime should be more appealing than Lonestar’s former offerings of Bonanza and classic westerns… [and] lend itself to a broader audience, and a wider range of clientele.’

Laczka’s response is exactly how Canwest sees the situation, Williams tells MiC. ‘We expect this clearer, more focused channel will grow viewership and give solid and bigger ratings. And we believe that the demo it’s going to attract will be more attractive than what Lonestar was most known for in its original strategy. So, from both a ratings and a demo perspective, we will have a bigger, stronger service that advertisers will be that much more interested in.’

With creative done in-house, Williams says MovieTime will get a promotional kick-off in October. ‘We will use our other Canwest assets to support the channel and to drive viewers to sample. Then, in the new year, we’ll have a whole consumer campaign.

‘We’re really excited,’ Williams concludes. ‘This is an opportunity for us to take a channel we think was doing well but had real potential to grow much more. It’s great to take an asset like that and position it for future growth.’

MovieTime will be available in Canada via Rogers, Shaw, Cogeco, Bell TV, Star Choice and Videotron, among other carriers, and will feature such hit films as Independence Day, The Bourne Identity, Apollo 13 and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.