CNN announced the creation of CNN Films, which will develop documentaries with top filmmakers and secure films to release theatrically and air on CNN and CNN International.
Creating and airing feature-length films will help CNN distinguish itelf from rivals MSNBC and Fox News as it struggles to improve primetime ratings.
The company's first acquisition is "Girl Rising," a look girls' education worldwide directed by Academy Award Nominee Richard E. Robbins ("Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience"). It includes voice performances by Academy Award Winner Meryl Streep, Academy Award nominee Anne Hathaway, Kerry Washington, and Selena Gomez. It is executive produced by Tom Yellin and Holly Gordon of the Documentary Group and Paul G. Allen of Vulcan Productions.
CNN Films has also signed development deals with Academy Award winning director and producer Alex Gibney ("Taxi to the Dark Side," "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," and "Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer") and director Andrew Rossi ("Page One: Inside the New York Times").
Story continues after "Girl Rising" trailer:
The original, feature-length documentaries will look at an array of political, social, and economic subjects. They will premiere in primetime, accompanied by CNN programs that further explore the issues in the films.
Amy Entelis, senior vice president of talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, and Vinnie Malhotra, senior vice president of development and acquisitions for CNN Worldwide, will oversee acquisitions. Malhotra will manage the day-to-day operations of CNN Films.
CNN Films will also look to distribute films at festivals and in theaters.