Elevator Pitch – Premium Channel “RePlay”

PitchGet this: Reboots, remakes, and adaptations are all the rage, so why not create a premium channel dedicated to them?

How would that work? It would take an aspect of what other networks already do, and specialize in it.

Working title: RePlay

Discussion: There are already too many premium channels, right? Do we need another Starz, another Showtime, another Cinemax?

No, but we could use a unique network that focuses on weaving nostalgia with a 21st century pace, combining the sentimental draw of classic stories with new artistic visions and the buzz pace of Google’s daily banner change.

RePlayThe Buzz Schedule

Instead of competing with other premium channels for the latest releases (unless they were prominent remakes/adaptations like True Grit) RePlay would base its core schedule on upcoming events, much like Google does with its share-worthy banner. And, not just the major holidays that any network would target. RePlay would generate demand by promoting obscure and quirky celebrations in its schedule.

  • A slate of buccaneer flicks, series, and documentaries ramping up to Talk Like a Pirate Day? Aye aye!
  • Pi, Life of Pi, and other mathematical movies on 14 March? Circle the date!
  • A marathon of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Emma on Jane Austen’s birthday? Universally acknowledged!
  • Films with inexplicable nakedness on National Nude Day? Anything for the exposure…

With a weekly shifting slate of odd celebrations and anniversaries, RePlay could generate buzz (i.e., free promotion) and strongly brand itself among the premium channels. Sure, other networks occasionally tackle these sorts of focused days/weeks, but RePlay—like Google—would make it the signature of the venue.

ReCycle, ReBoot, ReMake

RePlay’s original programming would specialize in remaking classic films and television series, something other networks do only as occasional side projects. RePlay would maintain a particular focus on paying attention to what made the originals work (or not), taking full advantage of reviews and subsequent criticism, while honoring the text and intention of the original screenwriter, or original author for adapted works.

In this way, the RePlay creative team would cultivate a reputation of devotion to honoring the language, mood, and message of the originals. This isn’t just to gain the trust of rights holders and superfans, but in practical recognition of what makes adaptations and remakes strong—and what makes them weak.

Not for nothing that the 1941 film version of The Maltese Falcon and the Coen brothers’ adaptation of No Country for Old Men essentially transcribed the dialogue directly from the novels and were fantastically successful both critically and financially. Not for nothing that the film adaptation of The Book Thief was hated largely because the novel’s powerful narrator, Death, was left almost entirely out.

It may be true that writing a novel is not the same as writing a screenplay, but certain elements represent common creative threads that hold the story together regardless of medium, and therefore should not be toyed around with. The same reasoning and ethic apply not only to adaptations, but to remakes.

Occasionally, however, RePlay could produce an experimental work that provocatively changes some single element of the original story, much as Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet sets the Elizabethan tragedy in the modern day. An important take-away from the success of this film, however, is that Shakespeare’s dialogue was retained. The screenplay still honored the original and simply had to make sense of the anachronisms.

This would be the ethic of RePlay programming: honor the original, no matter how hard it makes the writer’s job.

Mini-Elevator Pitches for RePlay Series

The network could also express its brand with series like:

  • A comedy talk show featuring humorous “interviews” mashed-up using dialogue from classic films and television series. Think Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid or Kung Pow! with a faux serious interviewer. The interviewee could be presented either as the actor himself or herself, or as the character he or she is playing. Thus, “An Interview with Steve McQueen” or “An Interview with James Bond.”
  • A behind-the-scenes style talk show devoted to influences, borrowing, and adaptation in screenwriting.
  • A filler program (a schedule-padder to compensate for programs that don’t fill up the hour) of the same scene, dialogue, action, or other screen trope from different films/shows. For example, the same scene from different remakes of the same story, the same phrase spoken in different films (“Release the Kraken/Kragle” from Dead Man’s Chest, Clash of the Titans, and The LEGO Movie), or the same iconic behavior (walking calmly away from an explosion without looking back).

Thanks for the ReMembrances

As the network of nostalgia, RePlay would aggressively seek to secure conditional rights to iconic films and television series in case of the passing of a beloved celebrity. This could include partnering with current broadcast rights holders in developing memorial material to accompany the entertainment. RePlay would also strive to develop a corporate culture of respectfully honoring passed celebrities, both to counter the crass click-bait take-downs that inevitably follow the death of any well-known person, but also to secure the trust of the families to foster a reputation that inspires greater access.

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Elevator Pitches: I started the Elevator Pitch series to cleanse my mental palate of the thousand and one ideas that crowd their way into my consciousness every day. A few of them seem cool enough to share, and I’ll share them here!

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