Disney/ABC To Close At the Movies Balcony

by Anne Thompson
March 24, 2010 12:36 PM
11 Comments
  • |

Thompson on Hollywood
Driving another nail into the coffin of genteel film criticism, Disney/ABC is finally closing down the At the Movies balcony for good. Started by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, continued by Ebert and Richard Roeper, then a series of guest critics ending with Michael Phillips, At the Movies was cut off at the knees by the idiotic idea of putting two young would-be critics, Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz in the show. At the Movies came back to life--as far as I was concerned--with the return of Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott. But I guess these two gentleman critics couldn't turn the ship around in time.

Last show: August 14.

Damn. A weekly ritual to which I am truly addicted will not be replaced. I am truly bummed.

"Rotten Tomatoes has claimed another victim," writes The Hollywood Reporter.

As @ebertchicago tweeted this afternoon: "RIP, 'At the Movies.' Memories."

UPDATE: Here's Ebert's blog post about his new "Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies" show. The two hosts are already picked: it will be TV, internet, multi-media. Roger and Chaz Ebert will produce and he'll occasionally narrate segments, using his computer voice, but interplay with another host is not possible. THR's Andrew Wallenstein adds smart analysis for the future of criticism.

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11 Comments

  • Jan | August 16, 2010 2:28 AMReply

    I am very disappointed At the Movies has gone off the air. I have enjoyed it immensely since Siskel & Ebert days--didn't watch during the Ben & Ben era. So excited when Michael and Tony started up, having watched them with Roeper. Very professional and intelligent reviews, and I valued their agreement and disagreements. They were the weekly mainstay for friends and I who like the movies and wouldn't miss their reviews. I hope somewhere, somehow they will return. They were the best!

  • Jan | August 15, 2010 1:28 AMReply

    I really wish that you would reconsider taking AT THE MOVIES off the air. My friends and I love it! This show starts many INTERESTING conversations at my class, dinner table, going to the movies, in the car, waiting for a game to start, etc etc These two are really intelligent and give us so many differtence things to look and think about when we see a movie. Don't always agree and some movies that they didn't like we loved. Please, please bring them back!!!!!

  • balcony bob | June 29, 2010 7:19 AMReply

    unfortunately for those of us who enjoyed the show it has come to an end. sign of the times with the constant texting and internet. why bother with critics when your friend will tweet or review it on the my face. I'll miss it. I agree that trying to get the younger hosts in to bring in the younger viewers was futile. Younger viewers were elsewhere.. using other means of communication and media.

  • copper | March 27, 2010 4:44 AMReply

    Why are you all crying?!
    Two movie critics lost their jobs, its not like the movie industry went down the drain, or critic's "industry" for that matter.
    Right now everyone is a critic, the ones that they call themselves professionals lack in whats the most important, professionalism.
    So, God speed!
    They will end up writing their their own God awful blog as many others, spewing hate on the right and left, because they are sarrow over loosing their comfy jobs.

  • alan | March 25, 2010 7:31 AMReply

    siskel and ebert were so important to me. now this... i'm glad i'm not a kid growing up loving the movies today. guess that says it

  • jacquie allen | March 25, 2010 7:26 AMReply

    this sucks. i am a fan of a.o. scott and michael phillips and am truly sad that such an iconic show is ending. epic bummertown... :0(

  • Joe Valdez | March 25, 2010 6:19 AMReply

    It's hard to remember a time when there were six channels and no movie discussion or clips on any of them, except for At the Movies. Today we get our film reviews six months before the movie even comes out -- courtesy AICN -- and At the Movies was an anachronism.

    As active as Roger Ebert has become on Twitter, it's too bad the show couldn't have found some way to embrace the Web much, much earlier. I respect Tony Scott and Michael Phillips both and will continue to read them in print.

  • CMJ | March 25, 2010 6:10 AMReply

    I didn't know people in general didn't like "the two Bens." I had nothing against them.

  • moviegal | March 25, 2010 6:02 AMReply

    Very disappointing. I was glad when they went back to Scott & Phillips & looked forward to their criticisms & praise. I skim through Rotten Tomatoes but it gives me a headache! I'd go for the Skype idea.

  • mitkid | March 25, 2010 1:54 AMReply

    Damn.

  • Crow T Robot | March 25, 2010 1:03 AMReply

    So depressing.

    This is akin to that scene in Children of Men when news broke of the youngest person in the world dying.

    Scott and Phillips were the last great hope of civil, thoughtful, legitimate movie conversation. They actually outdid Gene and Roger in a few ways... funnier, looser, cooler.

    Here's an idea... how about a weekly video conferencing web show where six respected film critics from around the country Skype a movie conversation (from their home or office) for half an hour? Six faces on the screen. Ebert could even join in via text chat as moderator.

    Maybe critics need to start thinking in Ocean's 11 terms.

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