Two movie lovers with a unique hands-on history in the Canadian broadcast landscape have launched four new Canadian HD movie destinations.
David Kines and Jay Switzer helped shape Canada’s Citytv the station that defined itself as Toronto’s undisputed destination for News and Movies.
Today, thirty years later, they’ve left but they can’t quite quit the movies.
Citytv was edgy, fun, diverse and unconventional, a guilty pleasure in the otherwise conservative bastion of Toronto media. You could watch a movie almost anytime, including Baby Blue porn films at night, and movie and music content unrivalled anywhere in Canada or the US. It originated the street level glass studio concept and played music videos before MTV existed. Citytv thrived and became a regular mainstream network and eventually got so big and corporate that Kines and Switzer left.
This winter, they returned to TV and their movie-mad roots. They created Hollywood Suite – a block of four stations that show exclusive-to-Canada movies from the major studios launching Feb 18th. The channels WarnerFilms, MGM Channel, Sony Movie Channel and AXN Movies will broadcast 400 movies between them each month in High Definition. HS offers a wealth of films past and present. We spoke with Kines on the eve of its launch.
Monsters and Critics: You were integral parts of City’s early movies and news days. People cared about that mix. Did you see a hole in the broadcast landscape you could fill?
David Kines: With the decline of the home video store and the growth of HD TVs, we saw an opportunity to offer viewers a chance to see their favourite movies of all time uncut, unedited and in HD at a reasonable price – 4 channels for less than $6. We LOVE movies, and we’ve hand-selected the very best for our viewers, and are presenting them in the best quality possible. We air over 400 movies a month and the titles range from Gone With The Wind to The Godfather trilogy and from the classic James Bond titles to Miss Congeniality. We have well over 1,000 films and are constantly adding to our library. We also know viewers like to watch on their own time schedule so our movies are available OnDemand from your TV service provider.
At Citytv we ran “Great Movies”. At MuchMusic we were “The Nation’s Music Station”. At Hollywood Suite we’re “The Nation’s Movie Stations”
Monsters and Critics: How difficult was it to get rights to the libraries of the big boys, Warners, Sony, MGM and action films?
David Kines: The executive team at HS has a long history of working with the Hollywood studios so that helped. Each studio has gradually been converting their vast libraries to HD over the last few years and what we’ve been able to do is to cull through those list and curate the ones we love, the films that resonate with us, the films that we hope our viewers will want to see over and over again.
Monsters and Critics: Why do we love films so much? We’re obsessed.
David Kines: Why does anyone love movies? Because they are a shared cultural experience. We remember sitting in a dark theatre and seeing certain movies for the first time and being amazed or scared or falling in love. It is a part of our lives. Movies bring back iconic memories
– just like music does – and those are the memories you want to share with your loved ones or your friends or your coworkers over and over again.
Monsters and Critics: One of your first – and early – “gets” is exclusive Canadian rights to the Independent Spirit Awards on the 23rd. Nice start!
David Kines: Who can resist an award show that has a “not so red carpet”?! Plus, “independent” films have become increasingly popular – witness the nomination list for this year’s show – so we think this will be a star-studded, fun broadcast that will be a great way to “warm up” for the Oscars the next day.
Hollywood Suite lines up cross-channel thematic programming like Oscar Programming/ Week of Best Pictures"* on now on free preview, featuring the Best Pictures lineup (Feb 18 – 24) Gone With The Wind, Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia, Tom Jones, No Country For Old Men, An American In Paris, From Here To Eternity, On The Waterfront, Marty, Around The World In 80 Days, Bridge On The River Kwai, Ben-Hur, The Apartment, West Side Story, In The Heat Of The Night, Midnight Cowboy, Patton, The French Connection, The Godfather 1 & 2, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Rocky, Annie Hall, Chariots of Fire, Gandhi, Amadeus, Platoon, Rain Man, Driving Miss Daisy, Dances With Wolves, Silence of the Lambs, Unforgiven, The English Patient, Shakespeare In Love and American Beauty.
Andy Samberg hosts the 2013 Film Independent Spirit Awards Exclusively on Sony Movie Channel, Saturday, February 23rd at 10pm ET on Sony Movie Channel on Rogers and Cogeco HD. www.spiritawards.com
Sony Movie Channel is available on television service providers across the country, including Rogers (channel 488), Cogeco (873), Bell TV (1273, Bell Fibe (1318) and TELUS (699). Full channel info at: