Hallmark Channel launches family movie showcase

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Hallmark Channel is making a new Friday night home for family movies.


The channel announced Wednesday that it will launch the showcase March 15 with the debut of “Return to Nim’s Island,” starring Bindi Irwin, the 14-year-old daughter of the late Steve Irwin, the Australian crocodile hunter who hosted a popular show on Animal Planet.


The film is a sequel to the 2008 action-adventure movie “Nim’s Island.” It will air as part of the new “Walden Family Theater” series, a Hallmark Channel collaboration with producer Walden Media, ARC Entertainment studio and sponsors Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble, the channel said.


The team effort “allows us a unique opportunity to further revive the practice of families regularly gathering to enjoy television entertainment as a shared experience,” said Bill Abbott, chief executive of Crown Media Family Networks, owner of Hallmark Channel.


The half-dozen original Friday night movies will include “Space Warriors,” with Dermot Mulroney, Danny Glover, Josh Lucas, Mira Sorvino and Thomas Horn, set to air in May. The showcase also will include films from the Hallmark Channel library.


Walden Media’s films include the “Narnia” franchise and “Amazing Grace.”


Bindi, who appeared on TV with her father, has made a career of her own with series including “Bindi, the Jungle Girl” and “Bindi’s Boot Camp.” Steve Irwin died in 2006 after being injured by a stingray barb during underwater filming.


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