American Movie Classics, or AMC, is an American cable TV network that was established in 1984. Most of the movies it showed in its first twenty years came from The Golden Age of Hollywood and the years immediately after, such as Marx Brothers comedies and film noirs. Starting in 1993, it began running the annual Film Preservation Festival, a multi-day marathon of rare, restored films that were previously lost, in order to raise money for film preservation. In 1997, AMC also started running Monsterfest, a weeklong marathon of horror movies that ran before Halloween; this was replaced in 2008 with Fearfest.
Starting in the late '90s, AMC began to undergo a famous case of Network Decay. In 1996, the network debuted its first scripted series, the dramedy Remember WENN, about people working at a 1930s-'40s radio station. In 1999, AMC would premiere its second scripted series called The Lot. The previous year, the network ended its long-standing policy of showing movies uninterrupted and began running commercials during movies. AMC also had a short-lived Panel Game, The Movie Masters, moderated by Gene Rayburn. The biggest change came in 2002, when AMC became a general movie channel, adding films from the last 30-40 years to its lineup and pushing pre-1970 films to late night, morning and late afternoon. It's been suggested that rival network Turner Classic Movies was responsible for this shift, as that network's establishment cut deeply into AMC's selection of classic films (the vast Turner, Warner Bros. and MGM libraries were now exclusive to that network), along with Fox taking their rights for the Fox Movie Channel, but the main reason for the shift was an effort to appeal to a younger demographic.
The final sign of AMC's decay and perhaps proof that Tropes Are Tools was the network's investment in original series late in the Oughts. In 2007, AMC debuted Mad Men, a critically acclaimed drama that entered the public consciousness and established the movie network as a purveyor of high-quality television shows. AMC would follow up with shows like Breaking Bad in 2008, The Walking Dead in 2010, and Hell on Wheels in 2011. AMC has also crafted several mini series: including the 2006 Western Broken Trail, and the 2009 remake of The Prisoner.
Today, AMC has become better known for their original programming, which many consider to be on par with premium networks like HBO or Showtime. FX, whose original programming has also drawn the same comparisons, is considered to be the channel's chief rival.
AMC is the flagship cable network and namesake of AMC Networks. Other networks and brands include:
- BBC America — A joint venture with the Beebs, after AMC replaced Discovery as managing partner in 2014. It operates as a standalone entity from AMC's siblings.
- Britbox — a British-centric streaming service from both the BBC and ITV. Through their partnership with BBC, AMC serves as an investor and minority stake-holder.
- IFC — A comedy and horror-centric movie channel. Formally known as the Independent Film Channel. Notable for being one of the few channels that airs their programming uncensored while still having commercials.
- SundanceTV — Largely focused on classic and critically-acclaimed programming, alongside original documentaries and crime drama repeats. Previously known as Sundance Channel.
- Sundance Now
- We TV — Originally stood for Women's Entertainment Television.
- Shudder — A streaming service dedicated to Horror films.
AMC Networks was previously known as Rainbow Media and was a part of the Dolan family's Cablevision in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Rainbow assets previously included Bravo (sold to NBC in 2002), half of the Fox Sports regional networks (previously owned by Rainbow under the SportsChannel name until they sold a half-interest to Fox in 1997), Fuse (which originally began life as an American feed of Canada's MuchMusic), and several other channels leftover from their failed attempt at an HD-centric satellite TV service: Voom. AMC was spun off into its' own company in 2011; the Dolan family continues to own Madison Square Garden and associated properties, while Cablevision was sold to French telecom firm Altice in 2016.
Not to be confused with automaker American Motors Corporation (long since absorbed into Chrysler), movie theatre chain AMC Theatres, or All My Children, the long-running Soap Opera known by its AMC initials in Fan Speak.
List of AMC shows and mini series:
- The Movie Masters (1989-1990; Gene Rayburn's final game show)
- Remember WENN (1996-1998)
- The Lot (1999-2001)
- Broken Trail (2006 mini series)
- Mad Men (2007-2015)
- Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
- Better Call Saul (2015-present)
- The Prisoner (2009 mini series)
- Rubicon (2010)
- The Walking Dead (2010-present)
- Fear the Walking Dead (2015-present)
- The Killing (2011-2013)
- Hell on Wheels (2011-2016)
- Comic Book Men (2012-present)
- Low Winter Sun (2013)
- Turn (2014-2017)
- Halt and Catch Fire (2014-2017)
- Humans (2015-present, co-produced with British network Channel 4)
- Into the Badlands (2015-present)
- Preacher (2016-present)
- The Night Manager (2016 mini series )
- The Terror (2018 mini-series)
- The Terror: Infamy (2019 mini-series)
- Dietland (2018-present)
- Lodge 49 (2018-present)
- NOS4A2 (2019-present)
- Dispatches From Elsewhere (2020)
Tropes Associated with AMC as a whole
- The Artifact: The only trace left of their past as a classic movie channel comes during the odd times they use episodes of The Three Stooges as filler. They would have about an hour of stooge shorts a day in The '90s.
- Network Decay:
- A case of Major Shifts That Fit, as the channel transitioned from an oldie time movie channel to a movie channel of larger variety. This did bring some good shows on the table.
- When Talking Dead became a success, it resulted in a new phase of unscripted shows. However, by 2014, AMC had all but ditched their entire unscripted slate. The only shows that survived were the aftershows and Comic Book Men. AMC wouldn't introduce any new unscripted shows until 2017.
- Monsterfest originally featured more traditional monster movies (vampires, werewolves, the occasional Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever or Alien Invasion flick). As time went on, it shifted to slasher films and more recent movies, to the point where they renamed it Fearfest.
- Sliding Scale of Continuity: Most of the various dramas fall into level 5 (Full Lockout).
- Take That!: If the network airs an advertisement for one of their shows, it was followed by a short blurb highlighting the fact that AMC was not available on Dish Network during its parent company's five month dispute with Dish.
- White Male Lead: The current original series on AMC feature a particular type of protagonist: The Strong White Man Who Dares To Be Badass. Some of AMC's promos are practically hanging a lampshade on this by drawing explicit comparisons between Don Draper, Walter White, Cullen Bohannon, and Rick Grimes. The Killing and Into the Badlands are currently the sole exceptions to the rule.