Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A television movie (also TV movie, TV-movie, made-for-TV movie, telefilm, etc.) is a photoplay that does not normally feature in movie theaters but is produced for, and released to, television only. It is commonly considered a type of movie, but some people restrict the latter term to those that do play in cinemas.
Earlier in the history of television, some TV movies were produced with big stars and high budgets. One very popular and critically aclaimed TV movie was 1971's Duel directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Dennis Weaver. Such was the quality and popularity of Duel it was released to cinemas in Europe, and later the US. However many 1970s TV movies were a source of controversy, like Linda Blair's movies Born Innocent and Sarah T. - Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic , as well as and which were vehicles for former Brady Bunch actress Eve Plumb.
Throughout their history TV movies have tended to be inexpensively produced and often feature B-actors or stars whose career is in decline. Even Spielberg's Duel, while a well-crafted film, features a very small cast (apart from Weaver, all other acting roles are bit-parts), mostly outdoors locations shooting. They are typically made by smaller crews and they rarely feature expensive special effects. Some TV movies are notoriously melodramatic, with soap opera style plots; typical plots associated with the genre include "disease of the week" movies, or films about domestic violence. The series of Moment of Truth Movies that run on the Lifetime cable network exemplify these melodramatic tendencies. Certain actresses, such as Valerie Bertinelli and Michele Lee, have been stereotyped as TV-movie actresses due to the number of films in which they have appeared.
Today the advent of cable television has served to increase the avenues for broadcast of TV movies.
A variant is Direct-to-video movies.
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