The Weather Channel Braces For Friday-Night Flicks

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A bolt of lightning strikes beyond a hill in Oregon i
iStockphoto.com
A bolt of lightning strikes beyond a hill in Oregon
iStockphoto.com

Meteorology is like the main character in The Perfect Storm. Which makes sense on The Weather Channel — but as the network will soon find out, climate-centric movies aren't exactly a well-stocked cinematic genre. In a couple of weeks, it's going to show Stephen King's Misery, which opens with a writer's car breaking down in a snowstorm.

James Caan is the poor soul subjected to torture courtesy of Kathy Bates.

Misery was a good movie, but it's about weather about as much as The Godfather is about cannolis.

So why are movies making landfall on a network that almost never deviates from dew point charts and Doppler radar? To hear the network spin it, it's a way to — and I quote the press release — "demonstrate how weather is an all-encompassing part of our lives." But there's some ulterior motives involved, too.

You see, The Weather Channel programming is something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it offers handy information most cable subscribers use often enough. But they'll only watch long enough to know whether they need to leave the house with a sweater. That doesn't help the channel's ratings.

Andrew Wallenstein

Andrew Wallenstein is an editor at The Hollywood Reporter. hide caption

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As bizarre a departure as movies might seem, at least they keep viewers on the couch for a few hours. Plus buying dated movies is a lot cheaper than producing original programming.

Now, The Weather Channel says this is just a short-term experiment, but it's probably the future of the channel. Consider the evolution of MTV, which once had the same problem. A schedule consisting entirely of music videos practically asks the viewer to change the channel every three minutes. Twenty-something years later, MTV is now wall-to-wall reality shows precisely because longer programs discourage clicking elsewhere.

But don't go crying for The Weather Channel just yet; the future of its business is Weather.com anyway. In the meantime, enjoy The Weather Channel's screening of Deep Blue Sea. Don't let the title fool you into thinking it's a tsunami documentary — it's a horror flick about homicidal sharks. Come to think of it, this whole weather-movies concept is liable to jump the shark.

Don't get any ideas about Rain Man. We know it's not about a meteorologist.

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