Chiller’s Thrillers Are Now Originals

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NBC Universal-owned channel Chiller,
which has scared viewers with acquired series and movies,
will soon look to thrill its audiences with original fare
beginning in 2011.
The four-year-old network will debut an original movie
dubbed The Passenger next year, the first of what it hopes
to be several original programs in the near future for the
nearly 40 million-subscriber, ad-supported horror channel,
according to Thomas Vitale, executive vice president
of programming and movies.
The film, produced by Andrew van den Houten (Off -
spring, The Girl Next Door
) and directed by Lucky McKee
(Masters of Horror, May, Red), is based on the novella
of the same name by best-selling author Jack Ketchum.
It follows the exploits of a young attorney who is unexpectedly
forced to fight for her life after she is picked up
on highway by a former high-school classmate after her
car breaks down.
The network was expected to air a promotional video
for the movie during the Comic-Con conference in San
Diego this past Friday July 23 according to Vitale.

“This is still an emerging network and already we’re
doing an original
movie, so this is
exciting for us,”
Vitale said. “One
of the best approaches
is to base movies on underlying material, so to
go out and find a great novella that’s known in the genre
is the best approach for us for our first movie.”

The network, which will get some competition in the
genre from the Oct. 1 launch of the Comcast and Sonyowned
linear iteration of FearNet, currently airs such off -
network series as The X-Files, Tales From the Darkside,
Millennium
and reality show Fear Factor, as well as horror
films such as Saw II, Firestarter and Phantasm II.
Vitale said the network’s subscriber numbers and its
move in May to become a Nielsen-rated service — the network
averaged 98,000 viewers in primetime last month
— helped set the stage for Chiller to produce original
content. In addition, the network’s success with its Friday-
night TV-movie premieres showed the audience’s enthusiasm
for film content.
“What we want to do with the Chiller movies is to make
them quality production and that have great teams behind
them,” he said.

Vitale said the network will look to develop other movie
titles in the near future, although he would not reveal
specific titles. “We’d like to see a consistent flow of original
programming on Chiller,” he added.

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