At the Movies
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.
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.
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- At a Glance: Additional information about the series
- Guest Hosts: A complete listing of guest hosts that have appeared on the show.
There are no DVD releases for this show.