‘Wentworth.’ (Photo credit: Narelle Portainer/Foxtel)

Self-isolation is providing a fillip for Foxtel with a spike in viewers for its movie channels.

In addition, Foxtel Movies Store is benefiting from the decision by the US majors to fast forward the on-demand release of titles such as Onward, The Invisible Man and Emma, whose cinema runs were curtailed.

Meanwhile, development on Foxtel Original projects continues with virtual writers’ rooms. Season 8 of Fremantle’s Wentworth is in the can and will premiere mid-year.

There are four weeks to go on Endemol Shine Australia’s Googlebox Australia, filmed with a skeleton crew with as little interaction as possible and extra safety precautions including safe distancing.

Foxtel executive director of TV Brian Walsh tells IF: “With COVID-19 shutting down almost all production around the globe, we find ourselves in a similar situation as we place the safety and health of all our cast and crew above everything we do.

“Our series that were slated for later this year are in different stages of production, so will have varying production timelines and be ready to continue production when we’re able to press go again.

“As to future projects, the writers rooms (all of them virtual) will continue in earnest and there are a number of them.”

More early-release titles will be added to Foxtel Movies Store each week, which Walsh hails as a new revenue category.

“We are seeing a dramatic surge in movies viewing, which is to be expected,” he says. “Foxtel has always been famous for movies, so now, more than ever, customers can select from more than 1,000 titles.”

In response to the pandemic, the platform has opened up additional content tiers so subscribers can watch new seasons of Westworld, The Walking Dead and Outlander.

Also it plans to offer on-demand a raft of library programming including Game of Thrones, Succession, Upright and His Dark Materials and classics such as Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family and Seinfeld.

Before the production shutdown, the Foxtel programming team had mapped out numerous premieres for the rest of the year, including FX Productions/Hulu’s Mrs America starring Cate Blanchett and Rose Byrne this month; Mark Ruffalo in HBO’s I Know This Much Is True in May; followed by Perry Mason, The Undoing, Bad Education, Lovecraft Country, The Third Man and Industry, plus See-Saw Films’ The End.

“I’m comfortable we have plenty of signature premieres to see us through the year,” he adds.

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