In this month's faith-and-family entertainment news: the birth of a new(ish) streaming service; strikes didn't derail holiday movies; streaming services form a new alliance; and Taylor Swift makes moves.
Meet Great American Pure Flix
Here's how the revamped streamer describes itself:
Great American Pure Flix is committed to bringing you quality movies and programs that celebrate Faith, Family, and Hometown Values. With Great American Pure Flix, you can stream clean anytime, anywhere.
Great American Media already included linear TV networks Great American Family (scripted) and Great American Living (unscripted).
Heading up the family of channels is Bill Abbott, former head of Hallmark's channels. He's taken the Hallmark holiday/rom-com playbook to his current enterprise. Two years in, it's working.
Nielsen reports that [Great American Family] is the fastest-growing network for the tenth consecutive month (By August, it was up 169 percent in total day household ratings).
It also leads all networks in year-over-year viewership increases.
But, Abbott has tweaked the formula to offer a greater emphasis on faith (something Hallmark Christmas films, despite being CHRISTmas films, seldom address directly).
Speaking to Deadline.com, Abbott said:
Well, it’s the first time [that someone is] developing a quality streaming and linear service that will be branded under the same umbrella in the faith and family space. There’s a huge blank space in this category and we are focused relentlessly on high quality content that will satisfy the underserved viewer, in a way that entertains and inspires. There’s a lot of content out there that goes in a different direction and we are going to stay in that family, faith and hometown values area. ...
Well, I think that’s a big distinction between us and the typical channel that may say they’re family. Not all of our projects incorporate faith, but a good majority or a good portion of our content is faith driven and really seeks to reinforce faith and its place in people’s lives and in family lives. And the two in many ways go together and are very much again missing from the overall landscape.
Asked if he meant Christianity specifically, Abbott said:
No, I don’t think so. Faith comes in many forms and there’s not a way in which we approach faith other than to treat it with respect and dignity and to celebrate it. It’s not about being overtly anything other than supportive of the concept of faith and family and feeling good about it.
No Strike Against Christmas (Movies, That Is)
The recently concluded strike by the Writers Guild of America against the studios and streamers (and the subsequent strike by SAG-AFTRA, the actors' union), brought much scripted production to a screeching halt.
But, expect the usual load of TV holiday cheer. From Variety:
The fall TV schedule may be lacking a bit of new content, but the holiday season will be filled with new TV movies. Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, Great American Family and more were able to fully complete their slate of holiday movies before the WGA and SAG strikes, Variety confirms.
The Writers Guild of America strike began on May 2, impacting both TV and film productions, while SAG-AFTRA has been on strike since July 14. However, some of the holiday films set for the 2023 season began production in January.
Bring on the fuzzy socks, gingerbread cookies, and hot cocoa!
Hands Across the Bandwith
Per a report originally in Axios, several of the large streaming services and other entities are coming together to form a new trade organization.
Several major Hollywood streaming services on Tuesday launched a streaming trade coalition, the Streaming Innovation Alliance.
Companies within the alliance include Netflix, Paramount+, Discovery+, Max, Peacock, Disney, BET+, TelevisaUnivision, Telemundo and Pluto TV. The coalition also includes the Motion Picture Association (MPA), ViX, ForUsByUs Network, Vault and Afroland.tv.
Created with the intent to “advocate for federal and state policies that build on the strong, competitive, and pro-consumer market for streaming video,” the alliance has recruited bipartisan policy experts Fred Upton, a former Republican representative who served as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Mignon Clyburn, who served as acting chair of the Federal Communications Commission, as senior advisors.
But, as Axios noted:
Noticeably missing from the group are Apple, Amazon and a few of the major ad-supported streaming companies such as Roku and Tubi. A spokesperson for the coalition said it welcomes more members.
Issues in the relationships between the creative community and the streaming services were major driving factors behind the recent strikes. So, it looks like, now that the strikes are winding down, the streamers want to forestall any future issues with D.C. regulators.
Swift Kicks Two Films Off Friday the 13th
Back in late July, I reported that the odd couple of the horror film The Exorcist: Believer and the faith-based drama Ordinary Angels were both premiering on Friday, Oct. 13.
Then pop megastar Taylor Swift announced that Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, the feature-film version of her recent megahit, ultra-produced string of stadium concerts, would premiere on that day.
Have a look:
Swiftly (pardon the pun), both films moved off their original release date. In short order, The Exorcist: Believer shifted a week earlier, to Oct. 6, but Ordinary Angels took a bit longer to find a new berth.
Coming from Lionsgate's Kingdom Story Company (Jesus Revolution, I Can Only Imagine), Ordinary Angels is the fact-based story of a troubled Louisville, Kentucky, hairdresser (Hilary Swank) who appoints herself the go-getting guardian angel of a widower (Alan Ritchson) with a critically ill daughter.
It's a sweet film that's a cut above many others in the faith-based genre, but you'll hear more about that from me when it finally hits theaters on Feb. 23.
Here's the trailer:
Image: Great American Pure Flix logo
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Content Manager at Family Theater Productions.