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Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Disney Sunday Movie

In the early 1980's, The Walt Disney Company had stopped producing programming for broadcast television. Studio management at the time felt that The Disney Channel would have a hard time signing up subscribers as a premium channel if it had to compete against free programming. This caused a few problems for the company's other businesses. Walt Disney had successfully used television to launch and promote DISNEYLAND. In the early 80's, the company had grown to include two Florida theme parks surrounded by thousands of hotel rooms. Not having a weekly television show made it harder to fill those theme parks, much less the hotel rooms. Many in the company attributed EPCOT Center's initial failure to a lack of promotion. So in 1986, the company chose to return to broadcast television with The Disney Sunday Movie.

Hosted by the new company CEO Michael Eisner, the program was intended to showcase not only that week's film, but also the company's latest offerings. As shown in the graphic, the company highlighted its Florida properties heavily in order to resolve the attendance issues at EPCOT Center. The first movie aired in the time slot, however, had little to do with the company's theme parks- Help Wanted, Kids. The film starred Cindy Williams and Bill Hudson as child-less yuppies who hire two orphans to pretend to be their kids. It later became a Disney Channel Original Series.