At the Movies

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At the Movies
Premiere September 18, 1986
Finale August 14, 2010
Creator Roger Ebert,
Gene Siskel
Network Syndication
Style 30-minute movie review Talk Show
Company Disney-ABC Domestic Television
Seasons 24
Episodes 1,000+
Origin USA

At the Movies, formerly known as Siskel & Ebert & the Movies (1986–1989), Siskel & Ebert (1989–1999), Roger Ebert & the Movies(1999–2000), Ebert & Roeper and the Movies (2000–2001), Ebert & Roeper (2001–2007) and At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper (2007–2008), is a syndicated movie review show that was initially hosted by the Chicago Sun-Times movie critic, Roger Ebert, and the Chicago Tribune movie critic, Gene Siskel, until Siskel's death in 1999.

Contents

History

Siskel/Roeper and Ebert

At the Movies was the third movie review show for the pair, after Sneak Previews and At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. After Siskel's death, Chicago Sun-Times writer Richard Roeper became the second host. The pair of Ebert and Roeper lasted until Ebert was forced to stop taping to undergo surgery in 2006. After Ebert's departure, the series saw a rotating cast of guest hosts, including filmmaker Kevin Smith and comedian Jay Leno. During the twenty-second season, the only guest hosts were Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Observer, who was on the first eight episodes, A. O. Scott of The New York Times and Michael Phillips of The Chicago Tribune. Scott and Phillips took turns appearing every two weeks, until February, when Phillips became the sole guest host. In April 2008, he was officially named "permanent guest host".

Post-Ebert and Roeper

In 2008, the show's production company, Disney-ABC Domestic Television, decided to take the series in a different direction. After Ebert's contract lapsed and he was made aware of Disney's desire for At The Movies to transform into an entertainment magazine show like Entertainment Tonight or Access Hollywood, he withheld the "thumbs up/thumbs down" trademark until Disney could present a new contract for the show that was acceptable to both he and Roeper. Negotiations broke down in July 2008 and Roeper announced that he would be leaving the show, with his last episode being on August 16, 2008. Both Ebert and Roeper have commented that they "plan to continue the show's tradition" and will continue to use the trademark phrase, which is still owned by Ebert and Marlene Iglitzen, Siskel's widow.

The revamped series premiered on September 6, 2008 with Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz taking the reins of the show. Initially, Disney-ABC Domestic Television implied that the series would be radically revamped to be more of an entertainment news show like Extra or Entertainment Tonight but with a movie review bent. In the end, the series remained more or less the same as the previous incarnations, with the notable exception of replacing "thumbs up/thumbs down" with "see it/skip it/rent it," which had been used in 2007 as well when Ebert withheld his trademark in a contract dispute. In addition, cosmetic elements were changed and more rapid fire review segments were instituted.

The Lyons/Mankiewicz reign on the show was widely criticized by bloggers and professional critics, particularly directed at Lyons. Websites like StopBenLyons.com sprouted up in response to Lyons' role on the series and Criticwatch on eFilmCritic.com dedicated an entire section to bashing Lyons' often hyperbolic quotes. Some critics claim that Lyons purposefully words his reviews in such a way that they would be used in advertising campaigns, like when he said in a review that I Am Legend is "one of the greatest movies ever made."

The two hosts were dismissed from the series after one season and replaced with Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune and A.O. Scott of the New York Times, who had both filled in for Ebert during the final days of Ebert & Roeper At the Movies. President of daytime television at ABC/Disney Brian Frons released a statement explaining the decision, saying "We tried something new last season and we think the world of Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz. They did everything we asked of them and they have been complete professionals. However, we’ve decided to return the show to its original essence – two traditional film critics discussing current motion picture and DVD releases. We thank them for their hard work and dedication this past year and wish them nothing but the best on all of their future endeavors."

Scott and Phillips took over the series in its 24th season on September 7, 2009. Though still minus the "thumbs" system, the show largely reverted to its pre-Lyons/Mankiewicz tone. The hosts kept the "See It/Rent It/Skip It" system of ratings and often spotlighted foreign and independent films. However, despite praise from Roger Ebert, the series was officially cancelled in March 2010.

Return to PBS

In September 2010, Ebert announced on his blog that the show would be revived on PBS starting in January 2011 as Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies. The show, which will be hosted by Christy Lemire and Elvis Mitchell, will see the return of Ebert's trademarked "Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down" ratings system.

Hosts

Person   Duration
Main Cast
Roger Ebert   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Gene Siskel   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Richard Roeper   15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
Ben Lyons   23
Ben Mankiewicz   23
A. O. Scott   22 24
Michael Phillips   22 24
Supporting/Recurring Cast
Robert Wilonsky   22

Seasons

Season  Premiere Finale #
Syndication
Season One: Siskel & Ebert & the Movies September 18, 1986 1987
Season Two: Siskel & Ebert & the Movies 1987 1988
Season Three: Siskel & Ebert & the Movies 1988 1989
Season Four: Siskel & Ebert 1989 1990
Season Five: Siskel & Ebert 1990 1991
Season Six: Siskel & Ebert 1991 1992
Season Seven: Siskel & Ebert 1992 1993
Season Eight: Siskel & Ebert 1993 1994
Season Nine: Siskel & Ebert 1994 1995
Season Ten: Siskel & Ebert 1995 1996
Season Eleven: Siskel & Ebert September 18, 1996 1997
Season Twelve: Siskel & Ebert 1997 1998
Season Thirteen: Siskel & Ebert 1998 August 27, 1999
Season Fourteen: Roger Ebert & the Movies September 4, 1999 August 26, 2000 52
Season Fifteen: Ebert & Roeper and the Movies September 2, 2000 August 25, 2001 52
Season Sixteen: Ebert & Roeper September 1, 2001 2002
Season Seventeen: Ebert & Roeper 2002 2003
Season Eighteen: Ebert & Roeper 2003 2004
Season Nineteen: Ebert & Roeper 2004 2005
Season Twenty: Ebert & Roeper 2005 2006
Season Twenty-One: Ebert & Roeper 2006 August 18, 2007
Season Twenty-Two: At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper August 25, 2007 August 16, 2008 49
Season Twenty-Three: At the Movies September 6, 2008 August 29, 2009 50
Season Twenty-Four: At the Movies September 5, 2009 August 14, 2010 46

In-Depth

  • At a Glance: Additional information about the series
  • Guest Hosts: A complete listing of guest hosts that have appeared on the show.

DVD Releases

There are no DVD releases for this show.

External Sites