TV Pilots, Movie Theaters, and an Out Of the Box Idea

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Photo by Nick Bolton on Unsplash

It’s a worrying time for the entertainment industry. Regal has been shutting theaters then opening them again. Movie theaters are limping along, trying to survive with measures such as reducing the cost of whole theater rentals, showing popular older movies, etc.

The pandemic will end, though. Demand will undoubtedly soar, but the issues the theater industry had before COVID will come trickling back.

Fact is, it’s been hard to get butts in seats for a while. And some of the things theaters have done, such as piped plays, may take slightly longer to come back than traditional movies.

Theaters and the industry thus may have to get creative.

TV Pilot Specials

One of the things that’s crept in is the TV Pilot Special. A two hour pilot of a TV show is shown in theaters. Doctor Who has had some success with this, with both pilots and releases of particularly popular episodes.

TV networks might well provide new material for theaters that are having difficulty with movies to show because of delayed filming. This could result in the return of the two hour pilot, which has been more or less killed by streaming. (I suspect it has something to do with how the databases work. Discovery had a two hour pilot, but it was split).

For the most part, success with this has been season openers, not series openers. Shows with a huge fan base are what get butts into seats…hence Doctor Who.

But how about something a little different?

Remember the Double Feature

Most theaters don’t do double features anymore. The reason is simple; movies have gotten too long. We still use the term B movie…what it originally meant was the lower budget movie shown before the feature.

People still do double features at home sometimes. And a few independent theaters still do it. Single night events might be a double feature, although nowadays it’s generally a movie and a sequel.

So, here’s the thought.

Double Feature Pilots

Instead of returning to the two hour pilot format, how about making up to two or three hours by doing a double or even triple feature of TV show episodes.

The A pilot would be the season opener of a popular, highly-rated show which would get butts in seats.

But it would be accompanied by the series opener of a new show that is chosen to appeal to fans of the existing show.

So, the second show would be in the same genre, or offer the same kind of humor, or otherwise be related. The idea would be to give the new show a ratings boost while offering something different to the fans.


Would you go to that kind of a special event in theaters? Would you be more or less likely to take a risk on a new show if it was “paired” with one you already watch in this way?

I’m not generally a fan of watching TV shows in theaters, but for those who are, would this be something you would like? Maybe network execs would take notice if we talked about it.

Written by

Freelance writer, freelance editor, novelist and short story writer. Jack of many trades.

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