CNN Enters the Documentary Business

CNN, the pioneer 24-hour news channel, has created a new division called CNN Films, which will produce feature length documentaries that will air on its pay-television network and possibly also threatrically.  The first movie will be Girl Rising, about a global action campaign to promote girls' education, and it will feature the voice talent of Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Kerry Washington, and Selena Gomez.  CNN hopes to create these documentaries not only to feed content for its TV brand, but also to garner attention and hopefully profit from the documentary film festival circuit. Maybe they might strike gold and develop a non-fiction film that will draw mainstream audiences to the box-office.

It proves that content is still king as CNN joins other pay networks that have tried to expand their niche missions into film-making. CNN now hopes to broaden its scope beyond just reporting and commenting on news. Documentary films are a gamble, due to the expense of creating high-quality productions with celebrity involvement to reach the masses, but the payoff can be extremely lucrative. How soon before CNN delves into more fictionalized docudramas, as the History Channel did with its highly successful Hatfields and McCoys.  Let's see where this leads.