AMC is a cable television specialty channel that primarily airs movies, along with a limited amount of original programming. The letters originally stood for American Movie Classics; however since 2002, the full name has been deemphasized as a result of a major shift in programming. AMC is owned by AMC Networks and signed on October 1, 1984. AMC is home to The Walking Dead.
AMC was originally a premium cable channel that aired classic movies during the afternoons and early evenings, largely pre-1950s, in a commercial-free, generally unedited, uncut, and uncolorized format; the channel was originally a joint venture between Rainbow Media and Tele-Communications, Inc. It was not uncommon for the channel to host a Marx Brothers marathon, or show such classics such as the original Phantom of the Opera. In 1987, the channel first became available on basic cable television systems. By 1989, the channel had 39 million subscribers in the United States.
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 founded by Martin Scorsese, the festival as originally conceived was a multi-day marathon presenting rare and previously lost films, many 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 single artist marathons. During its fifth anniversary year, 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, the Festival had raised $2 million from the general public, which The Film Foundation divided among its five member archives. 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, the Festival had raised $2 million from the general public, which The Film Foundation divided among its five member archives.
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. The following year, Time Warner (who would later purchase rival Turner Classic Movies following the company's 1996 acquisition of Turner Entertainment) also attempted to acquire at least part of Liberty Media's stake in AMC.
In June 1995, AMC filed a $250 million breach of contract lawsuit against Turner Entertainment, which alleged that Turner violated AMC's exclusive cable television rights to the RKO Pictures film library 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.
From 1996 to 1998, AMC aired its first original series, Remember WENN, a half-hour show about a radio station during the peak of radio's influence in the 1930s. Around this time, GE/NBC owned a stake in AMC (which it divested in the early 2000s). 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, and 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.
In 1997, AMC started Monsterfest, a week long marathon of scary movies that airs in late October. The final edition of this popular week long theme was aired in 2007, ending without fanfare or mention from AMC until Fall 2008 with the announcement of the new Fearfest. AMC's website has started a Monsterfest blog, chronicling the latest horror news in movies and on television. In addition, late at night every Friday AMC presents Fear Friday, a horror movie double feature. One popular AMC program was American Pop! (originally intended as a preview of a new 24 hour cable channel), which ran from 1998 to 2002 and featured 50s and 60s movies aimed at baby boomers, such as Beach Blanket Bingo and Ski Party. Of particular interest to movie completists were the segments AMC played to fill out the time slot (Saturday nights from 10pm to midnight): classic movie trailers, drive-in movie ads and snipes (bits extolling viewers to visit the snack bar, etc.), plus music videos cribbed from musical movies from the period.
The majority of 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 silent film classics. The regular hosts of the telecasts were Bob Dorian and Nick Clooney as well as New York radio personality Gene Klavan from WNEW (1130 AM, now WBBR). Another WNEW-AM alum, Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins, provided his voice for the interstitials "Jazzbo's Swingin' Soundies."
For most of its first 18 years, AMC provided uncut and uncolored films without commercial interruption. Its revenue came from the cable providers that offered the channel to subscribers. However, AMC then gradually began to put ads between, and then also within, movies. 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.
On September 30, 2002, AMC changed its format from a classic movie channel to a more general movie channel, airing movies from all eras, including colorized movies; with the majority of classic movies from the 1950s, '60s, '70s and even from the 1980s airing in late nights, mornings, and early afternoons. Kate McEnroe, then president of AMC Networks, cited lack of cable-operator subsidies 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 a spin-off digital cable channel, AMC's Hollywood Classics, which would have required viewers to pay extra to receive the channel. This commercial-free digital cable channel would have aired the black-and-white classics of the '30s, '40s, and '50s that American Movie Classics had been airing up until its format changeover, but the new channel did not come to fruition.
On the AMC site, the channel claims to air fewer commercials per hour than most other basic cable channels. As it is now an advertiser-supported channel, the network television version of a movie is aired whenever possible. In 2004 AMC aired its first reality show, titled FilmFakers. In this show out-of-work actors were auditioned believing they were getting their big break with a major part in a real movie, and then after a week told it was a prank and there was no movie. A New York Times article on the show said, "FilmFakers may go down as one of the meanest reality series yet."
From 2002 to 2007 AMC has been showing classic films and documentaries about film history such as Backstory and Movies that Shook the World. In 2007, AMC debuted Mad Men—a period piece about Madison Avenue advertising executives in the 1960s. The show was immediately lauded by critics, and has won 14 Emmy awards. The establishment of Mad Men, 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.
Expansion of the new AMCEdit
On September 1, 2006, AMC officially became available in Canada for customers of Shaw Communications (both the cable service and the Shaw Direct satellite system), marking the first time the channel was made available outside of the United States. Other cable companies, including Rogers Cable and Telus, have followed by adding AMC to their lineup as well.
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 "Monsterfest" blog now being called the "Horror Hacker" blog. In May 2009, AMC unveiled a new slogan: "Story Matters Here"; the new slogan can be seen on the channel's website (as part of the title of the website's front page). AMC's other promotional slogans are "The Future of Classic" and "Long Live Cool." Also in 2009, AMC acquired FilmCritic.com and FilmSite.org.
On November 2, 2009, Bell Canada announced that it would add both the SD and HD versions of AMC to its Bell TV lineup on November 11, 2009. On January 4, 2010, AMC began airing infomercials on Monday-Saturday mornings from 6-9 a.m. ET (the Saturday morning infomercial block was eliminated after March 25, 2011); as such it is one of only three English-language cable movie channels in the United States to air infomercials (along with Hallmark Movie Channel and Lifetime Movie Network); others, including sister channels Sundance Channel and IFC, run a 24-hour schedule of films with some series programming.
In July 2011, Rainbow Media was spun off from Cablevision as AMC Networks, named after the network.
On March 31, 2013, during the The Walking Dead season three finale, AMC rebranded with a new tagline ("Something More" replacing "Story Matters Here") and the logo was inverted from a rectangular lined box to a solid gold block with the network's acronymic name retained in the center.