Sometimes a classic also needs a little retouching.

Turner Classic Movies will get a facelift from Wednesday. TCM, the cable television that is home to countless vintage films, will have a colorful new aesthetic in its on-air promotions, new openings for shows like “The Essentials” and “Noir Alley,” new sets for hosts like Ben Mankiewicz new logo and branding that emphasizes the interplay between past and current cinema history.

And as Mankiewicz said recently, he is already preparing how these changes will be received.

“My first reaction had nothing to do with me and everything to do with our audience,” he said. “What was, ‘Uh-oh'”

TCM executives and talents say the overall mission will stay the same and that this latest update is an aesthetic one that is meant to help keep the cable channel relevant and reach a wider audience.

While preserving and celebrating the past, TCM also thinks about its future. In an era increasingly dominated by streaming television, how can it continue to thrive as a linear cable channel and transfer its experience to other platforms? How can TCM, owned by WarnerMedia, add to that company’s own HBO Max streaming service without being swallowed up?

At the same time, TCM does not want to alienate its existing audience, which appreciates the curation of films and their commentary. And as TCM is rebranding, it realizes that even cosmetic changes can seem like harbingers of fundamental changes in philosophy.

As Mankiewicz said, “I want the fans to understand that what is important to them does not change. But they will still have a small heart attack. “

Pola Changnon, a veteran TCM executive who became general manager in January 2020, said she and her colleagues had been thinking about updating the channel for several months.

Looking back on TCM’s 27-year history, Changnon said the channel has always satisfied a core audience “who really just want their Doris Day films, the expected classic catalog. But there are people who are more adventurous, who want to learn differently and want to get involved. “

To that end, TCM has already started adding programs like “Reframed,” a series that re-examines films like “The Jazz Singer,” “Gone With the Wind,” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” which have been criticized for their outdated treatments by race , Gender and sexuality.

“You can still enjoy the movie, but you acknowledge some of the things that can be difficult for contemporary eyes,” said Changnon. “We don’t want to cancel these films – we prefer to talk around them.”

The redesign, introduced on Wednesday, features a light palette that is supposed to be reminiscent of the Technicolor logo. The TCM logo has a new font and an animated letter C on the screen that takes on various shapes and sizes before resting in a shape that resembles a camera lens or a movie running through a projector.

A new advertising campaign and slogan, “Where Then Meets Now” will highlight the connections that TCM seeks to make with its program to appeal to Cinephiles while inviting newcomers. For example, visitors to this month’s Telluride Film Festival will be greeted with banners with works of art, scenes from the remakes by George Cukor and Bradley Cooper of “A Star Is Born” or the John Wayne and Jeff Bridges incarnations of Rooster Cogburn from their versions of “True Grit “.

Tricia Melton, Chief Marketing Officer of Warner Bros. ‘ Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics Division, said these changes to TCM should emphasize “how the past can affect the present.”

While other channels and streaming sites can offer large film libraries, TCM was characterized by “the ability to bring curation and context into these films – why they are still resonating today, why they are important”.

“You don’t want a brand to ever stagnate,” Melton said. “We also have to move with the culture.”

That cultural shift was accelerated by the advent of HBO Max, which debuted in May 2020 and has since become a pivotal stage for WarnerMedia’s films and television programming. On this page, TCM only exists as one of several hubs with a library of several hundred films. (The channel also has its own on-demand service, Watch TCM, which offers live streaming and part of its catalog.)

Tom Ascheim, the President of Warner Bros. ‘ Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics Division, said it was simply a reality of the current media landscape that TCM needed to develop a streaming presence.

“To get one of the most obvious things about our industry, more people are streaming than before,” he said. “It would be pretty silly for us to ignore that.”

While he and his colleagues are looking for new ways for TCM to use HBO Max, Ascheim pointed to this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival, which took place in May as a virtual event entirely on TCM and HBO Max, as proof that the two platforms can coexist and complement each other.

“We have the chance to make the power of curation on a streaming service much louder than some of our competitors who compete on volume and algorithm,” he said. “Barrel TV is not that great. A television that was carefully selected for me, by someone I really trust, who feels good all day. “

Ascheim said the broadcaster’s expansion of its streaming presence is not a sign that TCM is giving up traditional cable television or its own underlying values.

“There is no intention of converting TCM to Cinemax, just like a number of films from the current moment,” he said. “As long as Linear is around, we will be there with pride.”

But even the reference to changes in TCM is enough to arouse skepticism among the audience. When a short teaser video was posted on Twitter last week showing Mankiewicz painting his own set, it generated a number of questioning comments. Sam Adams, a senior editor at Slate, tweeted: “Suppose this means a change to ‘HBO Classic’ or something similar”

But TCM staff said this type of second guess was part of the process. Mankiewicz said he faced a similar test when he joined TCM as a permanent host in 2003 – a role that until then had only been played by the network’s signature personality, Robert Osborne.

“Not for a month or two, but for years I felt: Who the hell is this guy?” Mankiewicz remembered. “It was only after two or three years that they said, this guy is talking about the films, it’s okay, we’re fine.”

All that was updated, Mankiewicz said, was the network’s outward appearance and logo, its set, and perhaps its clothing. “My wardrobe is likely to change a bit,” he said. “I can’t come out in shorts. That will not happen.”

As technology and platforms continue to evolve, Mankiewicz said, TCM’s goal remains unchanged of getting its films and commentary to all of these places.

“I am very confident that what you are experiencing at TCM will be what you will be able to experience in 25 years,” he said. “I’m not smart enough to say exactly how it will be delivered to you. But will you see curated films with an introduction by the host who puts the films in context? And will everything look as amazing on the channel as it does now? Yes, I’m 100 percent sure of that. “