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Cinemax (or Max)
Max (channel).svg
Launched August 1, 1980
Owned by Home Box Office, Inc. (Time Warner)
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Country United States
Broadcast area Nationwide
Headquarters New York City
Formerly called Cinemax (1980-2008; as main name, still in use as alternate name)
Sister channel(s) HBO
DirecTV 512 Cinemax (east)
513 MoreMax
514 Cinemax (west)
Dish Network 310 Cinemax (east)
311 Cinemax (west)
312 MoreMax
313 ActionMax
314 5StarMax
Available on all cable systems Check local listings for channels
Verizon FIOS 420 Cinemax (east)
421 Cinemax (west)
422 MoreMax (east)
423 MoreMax (west)
424 ActionMax (east)
425 ActionMax (west)
426 Thriller Max (east)
427 ThrillerMax (west)
428 WMax
429 @Max
430 5StarMax
431 OuterMax
((HD available))
AT&T U-verse See AT&T U-verse channel lineup

Cinemax (which since 2008, has also gone by the short name Max on-air) is a collection of premium television networks that provide movies, special features, erotica, and other services to consumers. Cinemax is operated by Home Box Office, Inc. (part of Time Warner). The channel's name is a portmanteau of "cinema" and "maximum".

In Latin America, the channel is controlled by the HBO Latin America Group. A sister channel, "Max Prime", is also available. A European version of Cinemax is known as Cinemax 2.



Cinemax was launched on August 1, 1980[1] as HBO's answer to The Movie Channel, which at the time was an up and coming rival. Unlike HBO (and most cable and over-the-air broadcast channels already on the air at the time it launched), Cinemax broadcast 24 hours a day from the day it signed on the air (HBO had only broadcast about nine hours of programming a day from 3PM to midnight ET until September 1981, when it began broadcasting a 24-hour schedule on weekends until midnight ET on Sunday nights; it did not start airing 24 hours on weekdays until December 28th of that year).

On-air spokesman Robert Culp told viewers that Cinemax would be about movies, and nothing but movies. At the time, HBO featured a wider range of programming, including some news, documentaries, children's entertainment, sporting events, and entertainment specials. Movie classics were a mainstay of the channel at its birth, "all uncut and commercial-free" as Culp said on-air. A heavy schedule of films from the 1950s to the 1970s made up most of Cinemax's program schedule.

Cinemax original logo when launched in 1980

Cinemax succeeded in its early years because subscribers typically had access to only about three dozen channels. Movies were the most sought-after program category by cable subscribers, and the fact Cinemax would show classics without commercials and editing made the channel an attractive add-on for HBO subscribers. In many cases, cable operators would not sell Cinemax to non-HBO subscribers. The two channels were typically sold as a package, usually at a discount for subscribers choosing both. A typical price for HBO in the early 1980s was $12.95 per month, while Cinemax typically could be added for between $7–10 extra per month.

As additional movie-oriented channels launched on cable, Cinemax's programming philosophy began to change to try and maintain its subscriber base. First, the channel opted to carry more violent fare that HBO would only show at night, and then Cinemax decided it could compete by airing more adult-oriented movies.

In 1983, Cinemax's parent company Time-Life Inc. (which merged with Warner Communications in 1989 to form Time Warner), had filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit against then-independent station KOKI (channel 23, now a Fox affiliate) in Tulsa, Oklahoma and its owners Tulsa 23, Ltd. over the use of the slogan "We Are Your Movie Star" (which was Cinemax's slogan at that time). However, Cinemax lost the case in Federal District Court to KOKI.

During the 1990s, Cinemax played one movie per day that would be based on a certain theme represented by various pictures that would play in a picture show presentation prior to the movie starting.[2] The symbols included:

  • Comedy (represented by an abstract face made up of various movie props, with the mouth open to look like it is laughing)
  • Suspense (represented by a running man silhouette)
  • Premiere (represented by an exclamation point caught in spotlights)
  • Horror (represented by a skull)
  • Drama (represented by the comedy & tragedy masks)
  • Vanguard (represented by a globe)
  • Action (represented by a machine gun)
  • Classic (represented by a classic movie-era couple embracing and kissing)

What theme of movie played on which day (and time) varied by country. For example, in the United States:

  • Monday, 8PM ET: Comedy
  • Tuesday, 8PM ET: Suspense
  • Wednesday, 8PM ET: Vanguard
  • Thursday, 8PM ET: Drama
  • Friday, 8PM ET: Premiere
  • Saturday, 10PM ET: Action
  • Sunday, 12PM (Noon) ET: Classic

In Latin America:

  • Monday: Comedy
  • Tuesday: Classic
  • Wednesday: Drama
  • Thursday: Horror / Suspense
  • Friday: Vanguard
  • Saturday: Premiere
  • Sunday: Action

These themed movie presentations began in 1993 and ended upon the channel's 1997 rebranding, when Cinemax's only themed movie presentation became a featured movie every night at 8PM/ET. Upon their launches in 1998, Cinemax offered viewers "sneak preview" blocks of programming that can be seen on ActionMax and ThrillerMax in primetime on Saturdays and Sundays, respectively. Although Cinemax has always been primarily a movie channel, the channel has aired a very limited amount of series on its schedule including Second City Television, Max Headroom, and adult-oriented series such as Passion Cove and Co-Ed Confidential.


Cinemax operates eight multiplex channels. All channels with the exception of Wmax have separate "East/West" feeds for the Eastern and Central time zones and Pacific and Mountain time zones of the United States, respectively. Cinemax also packages the East and West feeds of the primary and multiplex channels together, allowing viewers a second chance to watch the same program three hours later or earlier depending on their geographic location (for West Coast viewers, this gives viewers a chance to see a program as it airs on the East Coast before it airs on the West Coast feed).

List of channels

In 1991, HBO and Cinemax became the first premium services to offer multiplexed services to cable customers as companions to the main network, offering multiplex services of HBO and Cinemax to three cable systems in Wisconsin, Kansas and Texas. A year later, research from A.C. Nielsen Co. showed that multiplex delivery of HBO and Cinemax had positive impact on subscriber usage and attitudes, including subscribers’ retention of pay cable subscriptions. Cinemax 2 was launched as a multiplex channel, launching on these three systems.

Cinemax currently operates eight multiplex channels: [3]

  • Cinemax (usually displayed on the air as Max): The main "flagship" feed; blockbuster movies, first-run films, favorite movies and erotica; premieres new movies on Saturday nights at 10PM/ET.
  • MoreMax: a secondary channel with similar content to Cinemax, also includes foreign films, indie flicks and arthouse releases. Originally known as "Cinemax 2 " from 1991 until 1998.
  • ActionMax: Action movies including blockbusters, westerns, war pictures and martial arts films. Originally known as "Cinemax 3" from 1995 until 1998.
  • ThrillerMax: Mystery, suspense, horror and thriller movies. Launched in 1998.
  • @Max: Targeted to younger generation, features contemporary films, movies with an attitude exemplified and films with unique ideas. Launched in 2001.
  • OuterMax: Sci-fi, horror and fantasy films. Launched in 2001.
  • Wmax: Targeted at women, features dramas, mysteries and classic romance pictures. Launched in 2001. One of only two Cinemax channels that does not air adult films.
  • 5StarMax: Modern classics, featuring award-winning films and timeless treasures. Launched in 2001. One of only two Cinemax channels that does not air adult films.

The Cinemax Multiplex was known as "MultiMax" for several years, but now has no "official" name. However, HBO and Cinemax's respective multiplex packages are referred collectively as the "HBO/MAX Pak". Subscribers of DirecTV, DISH Network and some cable providers can get the Cinemax networks without subscribing to HBO, though most cable providers offer the two services and their respective multiplexes as a package.

Cinemax HD

Cinemax HD is the brand name for the high defintion feeds of Cinemax and its respective multiplex channels. All eight Cinemax multiplex channels are simulcast in 1080i high definition, and the flagship network began transmitting its programming exclusively in high definition on September 1, 2008.[4] Cinemax HD is available on Dish Network, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Comcast, AT&T U-verse and other major cable providers.


Movie library

Cinemax (through HBO) currently has exclusive deals with sister company Warner Bros. (along with New Line Cinema), DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox. In addition, it holds partial pay-cable rights to movies produced by Universal Studios (along with Rogue Pictures and Focus Features). Films that HBO has pay-cable rights to air will also run on Cinemax during that time of license.

Cinemax had for some time continued to air films from the 1950s, '60s and '70s in the morning hours, but these movies for the most part have since been relegated to MoreMax and 5StarMax. Cinemax rarely airs family films during the morning hours, instead opting to air R or PG-13 rated films. Max also produces documentary programming under the banner Max Reel Life. Cinemax has also ran since 1993, an annual film festival called The Summer of 1000 Movies, in which the channel claims to run 1000 films (many with a similar subject) over the course of each summer.

Max After Dark

Max After Dark is a late night adult programming block on Cinemax. It airs original softcore erotic drama series and softcore pornographic films. The original series that are currently airing new episodes are Co-Ed Confidential, Forbidden Science, Sex Games Cancun, Zane's Sex Chronicles, Lingerie and Life on Top. [5] This program block has often been the subject of both humor and scrutiny in the media and in popular culture (including in films and TV shows such as I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (which ironically has aired on Cinemax though HBO's distribution deal with Universal Pictures), Tropic Thunder and Late Night with Conan O'Brien), earning the network the nickname "Skinemax".[6] Adult programming is not limited solely to the main Cinemax network as MoreMax also airs adult movies and series, for the most part, an hour earlier than Cinemax, sometimes airing as early as 10:30PM/ET.


Cinemax's original 1980 launch logo featured the channel's name with first letter in uppercase and the remaining letters in lowercase in Avant Garde typeface on a semi-circular rectangle. Their "Coming Up Next" bumpers (and graphics) were similar to parent network HBO's graphics of the concurring time. In 1985, the channel adopted a new logo with the channel's name in an italicized Universe Condensed typeface with each letter on a slanted square sized to fit each letter. The logo was used under many variants of different colors, and updated "Coming Up Next" bumpers between 1985 and 1997. This logo was used in print and during bumpers for a short time while the original 1980 opening bumpers were used before a new feature presentation opener was added in the fall of 1985. The current Cinemax logo consisting of the network's name in lowercase letters in an Impact typeface with the 'max' on a circle was implemented when the network rebranded itself in 1997 (as with Showtime's highlighting of SHO in their logo, the use of MAX as the logo focal point comes from the channel's former TV Guide abbreviation in the magazine's local listings era). While slight modifications of the logo's coloring have been made since the logo was first used, the Cinemax logo design has remained the same since. The logo is often show with just the circle 'max'.

In February 2008, a new sparse and bare branding campaign was introduced, with voiceovers for movie promotions and ratings disclaimers fully withdrawn from all of the Cinemax networks. The promotions now feature an Adult Swim-style of introduction with white text on black screens, while 'up next' screens only feature the film name and stars with only sound effects and small snippets of music playing in the background instead of full interstitial music. Ratings disclaimers are in red text. All channel logos were redesigned - and most notably, the main Cinemax channel is now visually referred to as simply "max", though in some ads, the casts for the network's "After Dark" series have continued to identify the network vocally as Cinemax.


  • 1980-1985: We Are Your Movie Star
  • 1988-1989: See the Light, See Cinemax
  • 1989-1991: More Movies, More Choice
  • 1991-1993: Cinemax, If You Like Movies
  • 2000-2008: Get Into The Movies


External links

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