TBS Presents: “10 Days of The Duke”

Remember when TBS started doing these prime-time marathons in the late 1980s? “10 Days of The Duke” celebrating John Wayne, “16 Days of 007” whenever a new James Bond movie came out, “8 Great Hours of Andy” over Thanksgiving. My family and I looked forward to these marathons–even if we couldn’t always get the best reception on our ancient television sets! These eventually led to the postmodern invention of cable networks adopting a single film to show for 24 hours straight on Christmas Day (another Turner invention).

This is a collection of TV spots and bumpers for the John Wayne marathon that debuted in the fall of 1992.

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2 thoughts on “TBS Presents: “10 Days of The Duke””

  1. I was going through some boxes my mother gave me after my father passed and in a tube was a TBS. 10 Days of the Duke poster that’s dated October 31 – November 9, 1992. It’s a full size movie poster. I have been unable to find any info about it and was hoping you could help. I don’t understand why a television station would need a poster.

    1. First, let me extend my condolences on the loss of your father. Hopefully I will be able to shed some light on this mystery. On a side note, that’s an incredible find!

      So, I don’t know how old you are, but once upon a time, TBS was not a cable powerhouse like it is today. In the 1980s into the early 1990s, Ted Turner was still growing his media empire and TBS was evolving from “Channel 17”–a local UHF station based in a little brick building on Williams Street in Atlanta–into “The Superstation” (also, in FCC jargon, a broadcast station with a range into multiple markets).

      To help foster growth, Turner Broadcasting Systems (the TBS parent company), bought the broadcast rights to much of Viacom and MGM’s back catalogues (including most of John Wayne’s career films, the classic “Tom & Jerry” cartoons, some Desilu Productions–notably “The Andy Griffith Show”, the James Bond franchise, and even bought Hanna-Barbera studios outright–paving the way for Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Williams Street Studios, etc.). Turner wasn’t anything if he wasn’t a media marketing genius. He came up with the concept of “Turner Time” (the practice of starting programs at 5 minutes after the established time slots), created the first 24-hour non-network-affiliated television station, and developed the idea of broadcast marathons. This is where we come to your poster and how it fits in.

      “10 Days of The Duke” was a big deal on TBS. Like, a BIG deal. For one, John Wayne was still a hugely popular actor even into the 1990s, and his movies were a bit of a cultural touchstone through the 1980s (back when we needed big, tough, masculine role models to face off against the Red Menace). Turner leveraged these facts, coupled them with the relative scarcity/expense of VHS copies of many of these films, and built the early-90s equivalent of “Shark Week”. Posters like this were put up in conspicuous locations like transit stops, shopping malls, and even around CNN center (which is likely where yours came from originally) to build the hype and increase viewership. It worked, too! The TBS special event marathons were some of the highest-viewed programming during that era, and helped cement their position as the dominant force in communications that they are today.

      I have more videos in this vein that I’m slowly uploading to YouTube. Feel free to have a look at my channel there for more stuff like this as I find it!

      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8sH9AHQoE6obT6yYFvosHg

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