New Anne of Green Gables movie to air on Islander Day

Dave Stewart dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 15, 2016

Breakthrough Entertainment released this publicity shot of its new movie, "Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables", starring, from left, Sara Botsford as Marilla, Ella Ballentine as Anne and Martin Sheen as Matthew.

©SUBMITTED PHOTO

It seems rather appropriate that Anne Shirley will once again grace televisions screens across Canada on Islander Day.

Lucy Maud Montgomery's iconic Anne of Green Gables eight-novel series, which has been adapted for television, film and stage more than two dozen times, will be told again in a new TV production.

YTV will air "Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables'' on Monday, Feb. 15, which just happens to be a statutory holiday geared for families in the author's home province.

The movie will star Martin Sheen, best known for his role as President Jed Bartlett on the NBC television show "The West Wing'', as Matthew Cuthbert. Sara Botsford will play his stern sister, Marilla, while Canadian actor Ella Ballentine fills the shoes of Anne Shirley.

"We are very, very excited,'' says Brenda Gallant, director of marketing communications for the Department of Tourism.

Anytime Anne hits the big or small screen, the province benefits. When Japan aired a TV drama a few ago about the first Japanese translator of the novel, the number of Japanese tourists to P.E.I. went up almost 300 per cent. More than 60 million viewers in Japan watched the drama.

According to the Canadian Tourism Commission, Japanese visitors booked 6,706 rooms in hotels and other accommodations between January and September 2014, up 117 per cent in one year and the highest number, up to that point at least, in 10 years.

Gallant says there's no question Anne raises awareness of P.E.I., calling the character and Montgomery the province's best ambassadors.

"She was so eloquent in her description of the beauty of P.E.I.''

News also broke this week that CBC will begin production this spring on an eight-episode TV series that will hit the airwaves in 2017. Not much is known yet about how true to Montgomery's books it will be.

However, the YTV television movie appears to be the classic tale that so many love.

Montgomery's granddaughter, Kate MacDonald Butler, served as an executive producer on the project and has given her full approval of the final product.

The P.E.I. government also helped out with the YTV production, providing footage and information. YTV also did some filming in the province.

Tourism commercials about P.E.I. will likely air during the movie.

Gallant says tourism marketing is an extremely competitive business and the province will gladly use whatever edge it can get to bring people in.