A new digital sub-channel will be making its debut on Chicago television on Monday morning. The new Movies! Network is a 24/7 classic movie channel, which is a joint venture between FOX Television and Chicago's own Weigel Broadcasting.
Movies! Network, which has been mentioned on this website since January, was originally targeting an early spring launch on WFLD-TV's digital subchannel 32.2. Instead, it will finally launch on Memorial Day on the digital subchannel of WFLD-TV's sister-station WPWR-TV, channel 50.2.
With Movies! Network appearing on the FOX-owned WPWR-TV subchannel, this marks the first time ever that a Weigel Broadcasting owned or co-owned network will not be appearing on one of the three Weigel-owned Chicago television stations (WCIU, WWME, or WMEU), or one of those stations' subschannels.
In addition to Chicago, Movies! Network will launch on 16 other FOX-owned digital subchannels, as well as on a station owned by Weigel Broadcasting (Milwaukee's WMLW-TV 49.3) and on a station owned by Landmark Media. Upon its launch, the new network will be in a total of 19 markets, reaching over 40% of U.S. homes with televisions.
What makes Movies! Network different from other retro TV networks is that Movies! will show the the films in their original widescreen formats, with no editing done for time. The movies will end when they naturally end, not to fit within set time constraints at the top or bottom of an hour. The only editing will be for inappropriate content to comply with FCC restrictions, not for run times.
The movies will be shown with very limited interruptions, as well. No more than 12 minutes of commercials per hour will air.
The movies will be coming primarily from the vast library of feature films from the Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, with at least two other film partners joining soon.
As is typical with the clever marketing minds of Weigel Broadcasting, Movies! Network will use humorous promos and put together blocks of similar programming. Mornings could have blocks of hours with Westerns, evenings may have a central theme (same actor, romantic comedies, iconic director, action, etc.). This is similar to what Weigel does with its other diginets, including Me-TV and This-TV.
The Weigel Broadcasting-created and co-founded This-TV will be a primary rival for the new Movies! Network. However, in just a few months, Weigel Broadcasting will be leaving This-TV completely. Instead, Weigel's partner MGM has chosen to work with Tribune Broadcasting for production/programming oversight of This-TV, beginning in the late summer.
The very same programming, sales, traffic, and operations teams from the highly successful Me-TV Network, based out of Chicago, will now be behind the Movies! Network. In fact, in advanced sales pitches to sponsors, the Movies! Network was being introduced as "Presenting the Me-TV of movies."
Movies! Network will make its debut at 7:00am on Monday morning with the 1975 blaxploitation/spaghetti western film "Take a Hard Ride," starring Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, and Lee Van Cleef. Monday evening will feature a salute to Mel Brooks, with two of his lesser-seen comedy movies from the 1970s, "Silent Movie" and "High Anxiety."
Yesterday, the Movies! Network website went live. The still fairly simple site has the network's upcoming schedule for the next week or so, a listing of national stations carrying the network, and directions on how to re-scan one's TV converter box to make sure the station comes in.
Advanced sales promotional video for Movies! Network
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