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Starz will have its first-ever same-day premiere of the first episode of the series, based on the classic Evil Dead horror films, on Halloween, citing strong demand by fans and distributors.
That means that distributors in some international markets can debut the show before Starz airs it in the U.S. at 9 p.m. on Oct. 31.
Among the international networks and digital providers that have taken the show and will premiere it on Oct. 31 are Amedia in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, C More in Scandinavia, Fox Action on the Fox+ Premium service/Fox Latin America Channels in Latin America/Brazil, Sky TV in New Zealand, Stan in Australia, Starz Play Arabia in the Middle East and North Africa and Super Channel in Canada.
“Fans of The Evil Dead have spoken with great passion and interest around the world, sparking high buyer demand for Ash vs. Evil Dead,” said Michael Thornton, chief revenue officer at Starz. “We are delighted to be able to provide flexibility to many of the key buyers serviced by Starz Worldwide Distribution and Starz Digital, and thus allow for a wave of local Ash vs. Evil Dead worldwide premieres on the ‘groovy’ date of October 31.”
The 10-episode first season of the half-hour series is executive produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell, the original filmmakers and Craig DiGregorio, who also serves as showrunner.
The cast is led by Campbell (Burn Notice) who reprises his role as Ash Williams, Lucy Lawless as Ruby, a mysterious figure who believes Ash is the cause of the Evil outbreaks, Ray Santiago (Touch, Meet the Fockers) as Pablo Simon Bolivar, an idealistic immigrant who becomes Ash’s loyal sidekick, Dana DeLorenzo (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas) as Kelly Maxwell, a moody wild child trying to outrun her past and Jill Marie Jones (Sleepy Hollow) as Amanda Fisher, a disgraced Michigan state trooper set to find Ash and prove his responsibility in the murder of her partner.
The series picks up with Ash as a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind, forcing him to step up.
Even though certain international time zones will see linear-channel premieres of Ash ahead of the U.S., given the special same-day approach Starz decided upon for the launch of the show, the debut episode will be available for Starz Play and Starz On Demand subscribers in the U.S. as of 12:01 a.m., providing an early viewing opportunity for those who can’t wait or worry about spoilers on social media platforms.
“In general, we like to have a day between ours and everyone else’s start” to a new show, Thornton tells THR about the decision to go day-and-date. “We had to think long and hard about: do we not have the world premiere on the channel?” The decision came down to the special circumstances. “This property is such a unique one. It’s an event,” he explains. “We snuck a preview at Comic-Con, and people really went crazy for it.”
Gene George, Starz’s executive vp, worldwide distribution, said the premium TV company felt offering a same-day debut for the show internationally made sense, and it talked to its distribution partners abroad about the idea. “We thought about it for Halloween, which has become much more popular globally. There is awareness of that date internationally, and it is becoming more popular,” he told THR. “We wanted to give our partners a chance to capitalize on that. We thought it gives our partners a little bit of an edge … It’s something we have never done before.”
He emphasized that Starz went with the same-day premieres because it felt right for the property, not to extract additional revenue. “It is not about money,” George said. “It is about making it a global event and supporting our partners.”
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