By Tim Molloy
NEW YORK (TheWrap.com) – AMC is adding a third night of original programming each week by announcing a Saturday premiere date for the Western “Hell on Wheels.” The third season of “Hell on Wheels” will premiere Saturday, Aug. 3, and will anchor Saturdays devoted to Westerns.
The expansion to Saturdays resembles the plot of a Western: The network is moving into an area widely considered a viewership no man's land. But AMC sees an opportunity, since the night features so little original programming from its competitors.
Previously, the network has aired original shows only on Sunday and Thursday nights.
“A new episode of ‘Hell on Wheels’ on Saturday night after a full day of western fan favorites is going to be like the saddle on top of the horse,” said Charlie Collier, president and general manager, of AMC. “This is a programmer’s dream – to have a genre specific, 14-hour lead-in to one of your highest-rated originals. We are so excited about this opportunity to entertain AMC’s audience in a new way.”
“Hell on Wheels” showrunner, John Wirth, says the new season “will be a western about work — the building of the railroad, the binding of the nation after the Civil War, and the rehabilitation of the men who lived and fought their way through those exploits. This season we’re placing Cullen Bohannon at the center of the show, and taking him away from the revenge motive which propelled him into the series.” He continues, “AMC has raised the bar for television dramas, they’ve set the gold standard. There’s nothing else like this on television.”
"Hell on Wheels," was the second highest series launch in AMC history. The series' second season wrapped in October with an average of 2.4 million total viewers and 3.2 million viewers over the week.
AMC also announced it was adding to its inventory of classic Paramount Pictures’ Westerns, including “El Dorado” (1967), “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962), “The Shootist” (1976) and “The Sons of Katie Elder” (1965).
The network will also celebrate the anniversaries of several renowned westerns including the 60th anniversary of “Hondo” (1953) and the 50th anniversary of “McLintock!” (1963), both starring John Wayne, as well as the 45th anniversary of “Hang ’em High” (1968) and the 40th anniversary of “High Plains Drifter” (1973), both starring Clint Eastwood.
The network has also acquired episodes of the Eastwood's 1959-65 television series, "Rawhide," which will begin airing April 20. And the network plans to air the miniseries "Lonesome Dove" and, for the very first time on the network, the sequel "Return to Lonesome Dove."
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