The Rugrats Movie


Commercial TV Premiere Seen On CBS,
With Extra Scenes

Left: A little something for Jay Leno -- listings from the 11/23/2001 TV page in the St. Petersburg Times. Can you spot what is wrong with the listings for The Rugrats Movie?
(©2001 Times Publishing Company.)

The Rugrats Movie finally had its commercial TV debut in the US during the Thanksgiving weekend, on Friday, 11/23/2001, at 8PM ET / PT, 7PM CT / MT, on most CBS stations.

The CBS telecast was scheduled for 2 hours, and there were no cuts. As a matter of fact, the film was actually expanded, in order to fill the 2-hour time slot perfectly. It is common practice for TV versions of short-length theatrical films to have exclusive extra footage, designed to better fill the film's 2-hour time slot. Billed as "never before seen footage", the extra material involved 2 musical numbers, with each lasting about 2 minutes each. The first number involved Stu and Didi having a nightmare about Dr. Lipschitz, taking place after the circus commercial and before the runaway train scene. The other number took place in the woods, after Angelica's "Not all dogs go to heaven" line -- here, the Rugrats sing an army chant while they tow the Reptar wagon up the hill.

How much time is best for the film? Considering its short length, there's practically no perfect time frame. First of all, Nick has about 6.5 minutes of commercials and fillers per half-hour for THEIR use (this excludes the opening and closing credits of shows). If Nick has scheduled the film for 2 hours, then it would have 13 minutes to fill, assuming that the film is seen uncut, with about 26 minutes of commercials. But if Nick schedules the film for only 90 minutes, then Nick will have to cut about 11 minutes out of the film, in order to fit about 20 minutes of commercials into the 90-minute period.

The CBS telecast was padded with the extra numbers, as well as a 5-minute 'NSYNC mini-concert that preceeeded the film (this was a teaser for their 60-minute special, following the film), and a preview of Jimmy Neutron, near the end. And of course, CBS had more ad time than Nick.

To my knowledge, all CBS stations have broadcasted the film, though in the Great Plains states (at least, Oklahoma), many stations have interrupted the film at various points for severe weather bulletins, and have even displayed a map on the screen during the duration of the film.

And for Canadian viewers, the film was seen only on CBS -- since no other Canadian channel was televising it that night, it was not "sim-subbed" by a Canadian broadcaster. Sim-subbing is where a program on an American station is replaced with the same, identical program from the Canadian station, if that station has scheduled the show at the same time as the American station.

While this is the first time a commercialised version of the film is seen in the US, we should keep in mind that, once again, the Canadians have beaten the US in the global Rugrats race.

YTV had the world TV premiere of The Rugrats Movie on Monday, 5/2/2001 at 6PM ET, as part of special Victoria Day programming, which also included a 2-hour Rugrats marathon, preceeding the movie. YTV has scheduled the film for 2 hours, but considering the original length (81 minutes) and the CRTC's regulation on commercials (8 minutes per hour), there was a lot of time to fill. The film on YTV actually lasted about 95 minutes, and that is including the commercial breaks. It should also be noted that YTV has shown the original theatrical version, not the CBS extra footage version.

How Well Did It Do?

Or, rather, "How low could it go?"

The popularity of the Rugrats, and a little help from 'NSYNC, was not enough to bring in good ratings for CBS.

Yes, CBS has won the November sweeps in 2001. But the Nielsen ratings for The Rugrats Movie was nowhere as successful.

On the night of the film's telecast, it came in fourth place during the 8PM and 9PM hours. Here are the figures:

8PM ET to 9PM ET:

First (Win): "Providence" (NBC)
Second (Place): "America's Funniest Home Videos" (ABC)
Third (Show): "Big Daddy" first half (Fox)
Fourth: "The Rugrats Movie" first half (CBS)
Fifth: "Sabrina" / "Maybe It's Me" (WB)
Sixth: "Wayne's World" first half (UPN)

9PM ET to 10PM ET:

First (Win): "Dateline NBC"
Second (Place): "Big Daddy" second half (Fox)
Third (Show): "Thieves" (ABC)
Fourth: "The Rugrats Movie" second half (CBS)
Fifth: "Reba" / "Raising Dad" (WB)
Sixth: "Wayne's World" second half (UPN)

For the week, The Rugrats Movie came in at # 85, the worst-rated program on CBS that week. The 'NSYNC special that followed had slightly-better ratings, at # 78.

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