|File:AMC logo 2016.svg|
|Launched||October 1, 1984|
|Owned by||AMC Networks|
(downscaled to 480i letterboxed for SDTVs)
|Headquarters||New York, New York, U.S.|
|Formerly called||American Movie Classics (1984–2002)|
|Dish Network||Channel 131|
|Eastlink||Channel 669 (HD)|
AMC is an American pay television channel that is an owned flagship property of AMC Networks. The channel's programming primarily consists of theatrically released films, along with a limited amount of original programming. The channel's name originally stood for "American Movie Classics", but since 2002 the full name has been de-emphasized as a result of a major shift in its programming.
As of July 2015, AMC was received by approximately 94,832,000 households in the United States that subscribe to a pay television service (81.5% of U.S. households with at least one television set). In March 2015, Dish Network's Sling TV announced it would soon begin making AMC channels available to cord cutters, including AMC, BBC America, IFC, Sundance TV, and We TV.
1984–2002: Focus on classic films
American Movie Classics, as AMC was originally known, debuted on October 1, 1984, as a premium channel. Its original format focused on classic movies – largely those made prior to the 1950s – that aired during the afternoon and early evening hours in a commercial-free, generally unedited, uncut and uncolorized format. AMC was originally operated as a joint venture between Rainbow Media and cable television provider Tele-Communications Inc. (John Malone, who owned TCI and its parent Liberty Media, would launch another premium service—Encore, which also originally focused on older films, mainly from the 1960s to the 1980s – seven years later in April 1991). During its early years, it was not uncommon for AMC to host a marathon of Marx Brothers films, or show classics such as the original 1925 release of The Phantom of the Opera. In 1987, the channel began to be carried on the basic cable tiers of many cable providers. By 1989, AMC was available to 39 million subscribers in the U.S.
On December 1, 1990, AMC began operating on a 24-hour-a-day schedule. Beginning in 1993, AMC presented an annual Film Preservation Festival to raise awareness of and funding for film preservation. Coordinated with The Film Foundation, an industry group that was founded by acclaimed director Martin Scorsese, the festival was originally conceived as a multi-day marathon presenting rare and previously lost films, many airing for the first time on television, along with behind-the-scenes reports on the technical and monetary issues faced by those engaged in archival restoration. Portions of the festival were often dedicated to all-day marathons focusing on a single performer. During its fifth anniversary year in 1998, Scorsese credited the Festival for creating "not only a greater awareness, but [...] more of an expectation now to see restored films." In 1996, curator of the Museum of Modern Art Mary Lee Bandy called the Festival "the most important public event in support of film preservation." By its tenth anniversary in 2003, the Festival had raised $2 million from the general public, which The Film Foundation divided among its five-member archives.
In 1993, Cablevision's Rainbow Media division became the majority owner of the channel, when it bought out Liberty Media's 50% stake in AMC; incidentally in August of that year, Liberty announced its intent to purchase the 25% stake in the channel that Cablevision held at the time, with the Turner Broadcasting System helping to finance the buyout that included an option for TBS to eventually acquire AMC outright. The following year, Time Warner (which would later purchase rival Turner Classic Movies following the company's 1996 acquisition of the Turner Broadcasting System) also attempted to acquire at least part of Liberty Media's stake in AMC.
In June 1995, AMC filed a $550 million breach of contract lawsuit against Turner Entertainment, which alleged that the company violated AMC's exclusive cable television rights to the pre-1950 Warner Bros. Pictures film library to broadcast approximately 30 times between July 1994 and April 1995, charging that Turner's objective in violating the contract was "to gain unfair advantage for the Turner Classic Movies cable network (which debuted in April 1994) at the expense of AMC."; Turner owns rights to the RKO Radio Pictures film library and licensed RKO's films to AMC in an output deal that was slated to last through 2004. Under the terms of the deal, AMC would obtain the RKO titles in exclusive windows.
Around this time, General Electric/NBC owned a stake in AMC – which it divested in the early 2000s. From 1996 to 1998, AMC aired its first original series, Remember WENN, a half-hour scripted series about a radio station during the peak of radio's influence in the 1930s. The show was well received by both critics and its enthusiastic fans, but was abruptly cancelled after its fourth season following management changes at the channel (WENN was followed up by The Lot, which lasted for only 16 episodes). Despite a well publicized write-in campaign to save the series, the show was not renewed for its originally scheduled fifth season.
One popular AMC program was American Pop! (originally intended as a preview of a new 24-hour cable channel), which ran from 1998 to 2003 and featured movies from the 1950s and 1960s aimed at baby boomers (such as Beach Blanket Bingo and Ski Party). Of particular interest to movie completists were the segments that AMC played to fill out the timeslot (Saturday nights from 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time): classic movie trailers, drive-in movie ads and snipes (bits extolling viewers to visit the snack bar, etc.), along with music videos cribbed from movie musicals from the period.
The majority of the films presented on AMC during the 1990s had originally been released by Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, and Universal Studios. The channel also occasionally showed classic silent films. The regular hosts of the telecasts were Bob Dorian and later, Nick Clooney (father of actor and businessman George), as well as New York City radio personality Gene Klavan from WNEW (1130 AM, now WBBR). Another WNEW alum, Al "Jazzbo" Collins, provided his voice for the "Jazzbo's Swingin' Soundies" series of interstitials.
For most of its first 18 years in existence, AMC provided uncut and uncolorized films without commercial interruption. Its revenue came from carriage fees provided by the cable providers that maintained carriage agreements with the channel. However, in 1998, AMC began accepting traditional advertising, incorporating limited commercial interruptions between films (its sister movie channel Romance Classics, which had launched only one year earlier, became an entirely ad-supported channel at that point). By 2001, AMC had also incorporated commercial breaks during its movie telecasts. As a result of this move, Turner Classic Movies became the only one of the two classic film-focused networks to present their films commercial-free.
2002–09: Format change and expansion into original programming
On September 30, 2002, AMC underwent a significant rebranding, changing its format from a classic movie channel, broadening to a more general focus on movies from all eras – as well as shortening its name to just the "AMC" abbreviation, and introducing a new logo (a rectangular outline with a lowercase and uppercase "aMC" text). Kate McEnroe, then-president of Rainbow Media, cited lack of subsidies from cable providers as the reason for the addition of advertising, and cited ad agencies who insist on programming relevant to their products' consumers as the reason for the shift to recent movies instead of just classics. At the time of the format switchover, the company also attempted to launch a spin-off digital cable channel, AMC's Hollywood Classics, which would have required viewers to pay an extra fee to receive the channel. This commercial-free channel would have aired black-and-white classics from the 1930s through the 1950s that American Movie Classics had been airing up until its format changeover; however, the new channel never debuted.
The network also gradually brought back original programming. In 2004, AMC aired its first reality series, FilmFakers; the show featured out-of-work actors who believed they were auditioning for a major role in a real movie, only to be told that they were the subject of a prank and no film actually existed. A New York Times article on the show said that "FilmFakers may go down as one of the meanest reality series yet." From 2002 to 2007, AMC was a channel focused on American films partially classics as well as documentaries about film history such as Backstory and Movies that Shook the World.
On September 1, 2006, AMC officially became available in Canada for cable customers of Shaw Cable and satellite customers of Shaw Direct (formerly StarChoice), marking the first time the network was made available outside the United States.
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- "When TV network changes name, look close". CNN.com. Associated Press. March 3, 2003. Archived from the original on April 17, 2008. https://web.archive.org/web/20080417043745/http://www.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/TV/03/03/networkacronyms.ap/. Retrieved May 31, 2008.
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- Newman, Jared (March 4, 2015). "Sling TV bulks up base package with AMC and IFC". TechHive. http://www.techhive.com/article/2892328/sling-tv-bulks-up-base-package-with-amc-and-ifc-next-month.html.
- Newman, Jared (January 30, 2015). "Sling TV brings back the linear video element that other cord-cutting services lack, but could use some polish and a few more features". TechHive.
- Paul, Ian (February 9, 2015). "Sling TV's web-based live television opens to all cord cutters, adds AMC to lineup". http://www.techhive.com/article/2880211/sling-tvs-web-based-live-television-opens-to-all-cord-cutters-adds-amc-to-lineup.html.
- Gildemeister, Christopher. The Fine Arts Are Hard To Find Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.. Parents Television Council, October 2, 2006.
- Gomery, Douglas. American Movie Classics Archived January 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.. Museum of Broadcast Communications
- King, Susan (October 2, 1997). "Save That Movie! – After a slow start, AMC's Film Preservation Festival has raised $1.3 million". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1997/oct/02/entertainment/ca-38251. Retrieved September 20, 2008.
- Van Gelder, Lawrence, (June 30, 1996) "Restoring Films to a Former Glory", The New York Times. Retrieved September 20, 2008.
- Elber, Lynn (August 29, 2002). "Even 1970s Rock Fests Need Film Preservation". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. http://articles.latimes.com/2002/aug/30/entertainment/et-elber30. Retrieved June 4, 2011.
- Higgins, John M., "Cablevision makes moves on AMC", Multichannel News, September 20, 1993. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from HighBeam Research.
- Higgins, John M., "Liberty eyes Cablevision's share of AMC", Multichannel News, August 23, 1993. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from HighBeam Research.
- Higgins, John M., "Warner seeks AMC stake", Multichannel News, June 13, 1994. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from HighBeam Research.
- Katz, Richard. "AMC sues TBS for $250M over RKO films rights", Multichannel News, June 26, 1995. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from HighBeam Research.
- ""AMC Ushering In Nostalgic American Pop" (1998-06-20), Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved on 2008-9-20 via". Allbusiness.com. http://www.allbusiness.com/services/motion-pictures/4789318-1.html. Retrieved June 4, 2011.
- AMC on sponsorships: 'roll 'em!', Multichannel News (via HighBeam Research), March 24, 1997.
- Battaglio, Stephen. It now has enough commercials to make movie watching almost as intolerable as any other commercial channel."Old-Movie Channels Nearing Showdown".[dead link] Daily News. June 27, 2003.
- Why did AMC change its format? From the AMCtv.com FAQ
- Dempsey, John (May 13, 2002). "AMC moves forward". Variety. https://variety.com/2002/tv/news/amc-moves-forward-1117866790/. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
- Battaglio, Stephen. "Old-Movie Channels Nearing Showdown"[dead link]. Daily News. June 28, 2002.
- Ogunnaike, Lola (October 26, 2004). "Quiet on the Fake Set; Cue the Unsuspecting Actor". The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/26/arts/television/26fake.html?_r=1&ex=1256529600&en=63ed372d8a3775a1&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
- "Shaw Communications Brings Critically Acclaimed 24/7 Movie Channel to Traditional Cable Line-Up". Marketwired. August 29, 2006. http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/shaw-communications-brings-critically-acclaimed-24-7-movie-channel-traditional-cable-609788.htm. Retrieved January 3, 2017.
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