Movies! (stylized as "MOVIES!") is an American digital multicast television network that is owned as a joint venture between Weigel Broadcasting and the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of 21st Century Fox. The network features an emphasis in its programming on feature films. Movies!'s programming and advertising operations are based in Weigel Broadcasting's headquarters on North Halsted Street in Chicago, Illinois.
It is available in several markets through digital subchannel affiliations with broadcast television stations, as well as through carriage on the digital tiers of select cable providers through a local affiliate of the network. Movies! provides programming 24 hours a day and broadcasts in the 16:9 widescreen picture format, available in either standard definition or high definition depending on the station's preference.
The network competes with two similarly formatted broadcast networks: This TV (originally operated by Weigel in a joint venture with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, until the former's operational stake was taken over by Tribune Broadcasting on November 1, 2013) and GetTV (owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment); feature films compose the primary source and children's programming the ancillary source of programming on both networks, though This TV also broadcasts classic television series. Unlike Movies! and GetTV, all of This's content is transmitted solely in the 4:3 aspect ratio and made up of mainly pan-and-scan television cuts meant for syndication, which Movies! only uses if contractually or technically necessary.
On January 28, 2013, Fox Television Stations and Weigel Broadcasting announced the formation of Movies!, with plans to launch the network on Memorial Day of that year. Movies! officially launched on May 27, 2013, at 8:10 a.m. Eastern Time, initially debuting on the subchannels of both of the network's co-parents: five Fox and 11 MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated stations owned by Fox Television Stations, and two stations owned by Weigel. Its programming was inaugurated by a ten-minute clip introducing the network, followed by the first film to be telecast on Movies!, the 1975 film Western Take a Hard Ride.
Described as presenting "a variety of theatrical motion pictures in a new, viewer and advertiser friendly format, not seen on broadcast television to date", films featured on Movies! consist primarily of releases from 20th Century Fox, however titles from Sony Pictures Entertainment (including those released by Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures) and Paramount Pictures are also shown on the network. The network's film roster concentrates mainly on classic films from the 1920s to the 1980s. Movies! broadcasts a featured movie presentation titled "Icons @ 8," airing nightly at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time; described by the network in its promotions for the block as a "nightly celebration of cinema," the primetime showcase airs films featuring iconic movie stars from the "Golden Age" of cinema onward. It also broadcasts other themed presentations including a Saturday night block of films aimed at a female audience and a daily morning block of Westerns. Movies! presents many of its features in their original aspect ratio (widescreen or full screen) whenever possible, which are either presented in the 16:9 or 4:3 letterboxed format depending on the affiliate's preference in transmitting the subchannel. Scope films, however, are often reformatted from 2.35:1 to 1.85:1.
Films that are broadcast on the network are edited for graphic profanity and inappropriate violent or sexual content, but are not edited for running times to fit in a set time block; start and end times for films airing on the network are influenced by a combination of the film's original running time and the commercial breaks inserted within the broadcast (the network limits the amount of advertising featured during its programming to twelve minutes per hour), with airtimes for films varying between the conventional top-and-bottom-of-the-hour scheduling (e.g., 6:30 a.m. or 8:00 p.m.) and incremental airtimes in margins of five minutes (e.g., 2:10 p.m. or 3:55 a.m.) that more closely mirror the scheduling structures of premium cable channels than those of other advertiser-supported networks (this scheduling format, which still results in a particular film's running time to be somewhat longer than the original runtime of its theatrical release depending on the content edits, was replicated by GetTV when it launched in February 2014).
In order to meet requirements imposed by the Federal Communications Commission on the amount of educational programming content that a broadcast station must air each week, Movies! airs a three-hour block of children's programs that were originally distributed for syndication on Saturday mornings (currently featuring So You Want To Be, Tomorrow/Today and Better Planet TV). This allows its affiliates to carry the network's full schedule without having to purchase E/I programming from the syndication market to comply with the rules.
As of July 2014, Movies! has current or pending affiliation agreements with television stations in 43 media markets encompassing 22 states and the District of Columbia, covering approximately 49% of the United States. Fox Television Stations and Weigel Broadcasting launched Movies! in markets served by a station owned-and-operated by the Fox network or its sister programming service MyNetworkTV. Not all of the Fox Television Stations outlets carried Movies! at launch, WJZY in Charlotte (which came under Fox ownership one month prior to the network's debut) did not begin carrying Movies! until July 1, 2014, due to an existing affiliation agreement with Antenna TV.
In Chicago, Illinois – where Fox Television Stations and Weigel Broadcasting each own television stations – Fox-owned WPWR-TV serves as that market's charter affiliate of the network, instead of one of Weigel's three stations in that market (WCIU-TV, WWME-CA and WMEU-CD). This makes Movies! the first Weigel-owned network in which the company's Chicago flagship stations do not serve as affiliates (WCIU formerly carried This TV under Weigel ownership before it moved to WGN-TV upon becoming part-owned by Tribune Broadcasting in November 2013, and MeTV is carried on WWME-CD and relayed a subchannel of WCIU). WBND-LD in South Bend, Indiana carries Movies! on its third digital subchannel; WMLW-TV in Milwaukee carried the network from its launch until August 4, 2014, when Movies! moved to a newly created secondary subchannel of ABC affiliate WISN-TV. Following the WISN deal, that station's owner Hearst Television signed affiliation agreements on a piecemeal basis to add Movies! to select stations, mainly those affiliated with networks other than ABC, during late 2014 and early 2015 (Hearst already carries sister network MeTV in a majority of the markets where it owns stations).
In addition to its carriage on the Fox- and Weigel-owned outlets at the network's launch, the network is also carried on the digital subchannels of television stations owned by other broadcasting companies. Soon after its launch, Movies! reached distribution agreements with several broadcasting groups to add the network on the subchannels of some of their stations. The first stations outside of the Fox and Weigel outlets to sign deals to carry the network were KFFV in Seattle, WLWC in Providence (both owned by OTA Broadcasting) and KPXJ in Shreveport (owned by KTBS, LLC) in October 2013, with the three stations adding the network between November 10 and December 10. The following month, in November 2013, Movies! signed affiliation agreements with nine stations owned by Bonten Media Group, Cocola Broadcasting and the Maranatha Broadcasting Company. Four additional stations (in Salt Lake City; Boise; Wausau; and Victoria, Texas), through deals with companies such as the Nexstar Broadcasting Group and Saga Communications, added the network between May and October 2014.
- Antenna TV – an American digital broadcast network owned by Tribune Broadcasting specializing in classic television programming and feature film content
- MeTV – competing digital broadcast network owned by Weigel Broadcasting specializing in classic TV series from the 1950s to the 1980s.
- Decades - competing digital broadcast network owned by CBS Television Stations and Weigel Broadcasting specializing of classic television series from the 1950s to the 1980s.
- Cozi TV – competing digital broadcast network owned by NBC Owned Television Stations airing mix of classic television series from the 1950s through the 1980s, movies and first-run lifestyle programming.
- Laff – competing digital broadcast network owned by Katz Broadcasting, specializing in comedic television series and movies.
- Buzzr – competing digital broadcast network owned by FremantleMedia North America, specializing in classic television game shows.
- Retro TV – competing digital broadcast network owned by Luken Communications specializing in classic TV series from the 1950s to the 1970s.
- GetTV – an American digital multicast television network owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment specializing in classic movies.
- This TV – sister network co-owned by MGM and Tribune specializing in feature films with limited classic TV programming.
- Bounce TV – digital broadcast network with similarly-styled retro programming specifically targeting African American audiences.