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American Movie Classics

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Title: American Movie Classics  
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American Movie Classics

Launched October 1, 1984 (as American Movie Classics)
September 30, 2002 (as AMC)
Owned by AMC Networks
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
480i (SDTV)
Slogan Something More
Country United States
Language English
Broadcast area United States
Headquarters New York City, New York
Sister channel(s) IFC
Sundance Channel
WE tv
Website DirecTV 254 (HD/SD)
Dish Network 131 (HD/SD)
Bell TV 1281 (HD)
293 (SD)
Shaw Direct 281 or 364 (HD)
239 or 609 (SD)
Available on most American and Canadian cable providers Check local listings for channels
Verizon FiOS 731 (HD)
231 (SD)
AT&T U-verse 1795 (HD)
795 (SD)
Bell Fibe TV 1339 (HD)
339 (SD)
Optik TV 411 (HD)
9411 (SD)

AMC is an American basic cable and satellite television channel that is owned by AMC Networks. The channel primarily airs theatrically released movies, 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 deemphasized as a result of a major shift in its programming.[1][2]

As of August 2013, AMC is received by approximately 97,699,000 American households that subscribe to a pay television service (85.55% of U.S. households with television).[3]


Focus on classic films (1984–2002)

American Movie Classics, as AMC was originally known, debuted on October 1, 1984 as a premium channel. The channel's original format focused on classic movies – largely made prior to the 1950s – that aired during the afternoon and early evening hours in a commercial-free, generally unedited, uncut and uncolorized format.[4] AMC was originally a joint venture between Rainbow Media and Tele-Communications Inc. During its early years, it was not uncommon for the channel to host a marathon of Marx Brothers films, or show classics such as the original Phantom of the Opera. In 1987, AMC began to be carried on the basic cable tiers of many cable providers.[4][5] By 1989, AMC had 39 million subscribers in the United States.[5]

On December 1, 1990, AMC began broadcasting 24 hours a day. 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."[6] 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."[7] 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.[8]

In 1993, Cablevision bought out Liberty Media's 50% stake in AMC, making Cablevision's Rainbow Media division the majority owner of the channel; incidentally in August of that year, Liberty announced its intent to purchase Cablevision's then-25% stake in the channel, with the Turner Broadcasting System helping to finance the buyout with the option for TBS to eventually buy AMC outright.[9][10] The following year, Time Warner (who would later purchase rival Turner Classic Movies following the company's 1996 acquisition of Turner Broadcasting System) also attempted to acquire at least part of Liberty Media's stake in AMC.[11]

In June 1995, AMC filed a $550 million breach of contract lawsuit against Turner Entertainment, which alleged that Turner violated AMC's exclusive cable television rights to the 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 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.[12]

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 when a change of management took over (WENN's replacement was The Lot, whiched 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),[13] which ran from 1998 to 2002 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 time slot (Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to midnight 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. There were occasional showings of classic silent films. The regular hosts of the telecasts were Bob Dorian and later, Nick Clooney, as well as New York radio personality Gene Klavan from WNEW (1130 AM, now WBBR). Another WNEW-AM alum, Al "Jazzbo" Collins, provided his voice for the interstitials "Jazzbo's Swingin' Soundies".

For most of its first 18 years, AMC provided uncut and uncolorized films without commercial interruption. Its revenue came from carriage fees provided by the cable providers that offered the channel to subscribers. AMC then gradually began to put commercial advertisements between, and eventually also within, movies.[14] This began in 1998 when AMC began incorporating limited commercial interruptions between films, while its sister movie channel Romance Classics became an entirely ad-supported channel.[15]

Format change and expansion into original programming (2002–2009)

On September 30, 2002, AMC changed its format from a classic movie channel to a more general focus on movies from all eras, and original programming.[16] Kate McEnroe, then-president of AMC Networks, 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.[17] 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 digital cable 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.[17][18]

In 2004, AMC aired its first reality series called FilmFakers, featuring 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, "FilmFakers may go down as one of the meanest reality series yet."[19] From 2002 to 2007, AMC had showed classic films and documentaries about film history such as Backstory and Movies that Shook the World.

In 2006, AMC started adding more original scripted programming with the premiere of its first miniseries Broken Trail. The following year, the network debuted its first original drama series Mad Men, a period piece about Madison Avenue advertising executives in the 1960s. The show was immediately lauded by critics,[20] and has won 15 Emmy Awards. Breaking Bad, a drama about a cancer-stricken chemistry teacher who is involved in making and dealing methamphetamine, premiered in 2008, also to critical acclaim.

"Story Matters Here" (2009–2013)

On May 31, 2009, during the second season finale of Breaking Bad, AMC rebranded with the introduction of a new slogan, "Story Matters Here".[21] Later that year, the network premiered its second miniseries, The Prisoner.

On January 4, 2010, AMC began airing infomercials on Monday through Saturday mornings from 6-9 a.m. ET, the Saturday morning infomercial block was eliminated after its March 25, 2011 airing as AMC added a Saturday block of western series and films the following week. 2010 also saw the premieres of Rubicon and The Walking Dead. While "Rubicon" was cancelled, "The Walking Dead" became an enormous success and has become the most watched scripted program in basic cable history.

In 2011, Rainbow Media was spun off from Cablevision as a separate company, which was renamed AMC Networks after its flagship cable network; Cablevision founder Charles Dolan and his family continue to retain a controlling interest in the company.[22] Also during this year, the network introduced two new dramas (The Killing and Hell on Wheels), two original web shows (The Trivial Pursuits of Arthur Banks[23] and The Walking Dead: Torn Apart), and the Walking Dead discussion series Talking Dead.

In 2012, AMC premiered three reality television shows: The Pitch, Comic Book Men[24] and Small Town Security along with a second web show spun off from The Walking Dead entitled The Walking Dead: Cold Storage.[24]

2012 Dish Network carriage dispute

"Something More" (2013–present)

On March 31, 2013, during the third season finale of The Walking Dead, AMC unveiled a rebranding campaign with the new tagline "Something More" and inverted the logo from a rectangular outlined box to a solid gold block with the network's acronymic name retained in the center.[25] 2013 saw the channel's unscripted slate doubled with the additions of Freakshow, Immortalized, Owner's Manual, Showville, and Talking Bad.

Also in April, Rectify, which was originally developed for AMC, premiered on AMC's sister channel Sundance Channel to jump start that network's emerging slate of original scripted programming. It was then followed by the July announcement that fellow sister channel WE tv had picked up another series originally developed for AMC for the 2012-2013 development slate, The Divide, to series. During this timeframe, AMC had started to run marathons of certain shows and run commercials from its co-owned sister channels.

In July 2013, it was announced that the network had picked up two drama series: Halt & Catch Fire and Turn, which are set to premiere in 2014. This was the first time that AMC had four pilot orders picked up to series in the same cycle, the other two being The Divide and Low Winter Sun. The latter premiered on August 11, 2013 after the season premiere of the final season of Breaking Bad.


Although movies remain an intregal part of AMC's schedule, the network has garnered attention in recent years for its original series. The channel's first original series was The Movie Masters, which ran from 1989 to 1990; outside of Remember WENN and Filmfakers, most of AMC's original programming prior to 2007 consisted of film-related documentary and review programs. The establishment of Mad Men in 2007, followed by that of Breaking Bad in 2008, has given AMC a reputation on par with premium cable networks HBO and Showtime, both of which rejected Mad Men before it came to AMC.[20] The channel also airs some acquired programs such as CSI: Miami and shorts from The Three Stooges. Series programming, however, continues to occupy a limited amount of AMC's schedule.


In 1997, AMC started Monsterfest, a week-long marathon of scary movies that aired in late October and prompted AMC's website to start a Monsterfest blog,[26] chronicling the latest horror news in movies and on television. In addition, on late Friday evenings AMC presented Fear Friday, a horror movie double feature. On September 26, 2008, AMC announced the arrival of their latest October horror-themed movie marathon called "Fearfest" (replacing the popular Monsterfest). Coinciding with this was the renaming of the "Monsterfest" blog as the "Horror Hacker" blog.

Current programming



  • Comic Book Men (2012–present)
  • Freakshow (2013–present)
  • Owner's Manual (2013–present)
  • The Pitch (2012–present)
  • Showville (2013–present)
  • Small Town Security (2012–present)
  • Talking Dead (2011–present)


Future programming


  • Better Call Saul (2014)
  • Halt & Catch Fire (2014)
  • Turn (2014)


  • King Of Arms (2014)

Developmental programming


  • Line of Sight (pilot ordered) – The story of a National Transportation Safety Board investigator, who survives a mysterious plane crash and sets out to discover the accident's cause. The pilot was ordered on April 25, 2013.[27]
  • Raiders – A WWII drama about a rogue U.S. Navy commander who leads an unconventional warfare unit into the heart of Africa on a mission that will bend the arc of history.[28]
  • The Terror – A drama series set in 1847, in which the crew of an expedition discovers a monstrous predator that stalks the ships.[28]
  • Untitled Dystopian Saga – A futuristic, dystopian, sci-fi saga from executive producer and writer Jason Cahill (Fringe).[29]
  • Untitled The Walking Dead Spin-off[30]

Former programming





External links

  • AMC's Blogs for movies and TV series
  • AMC Canada television schedule

Template:AMC Networks Template:AMC Shows

Template:Canadian movie channels

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