A television movie, or TV movie for short, is a feature-length film made especially for television. It is known by many names, including telefilm, original movie and telemovie. A TV movie can achieve popularity that can reach beyond the small screen. Popular selections of TV movie have been shown in other countries' cinemas, proof that being a TV movie does not make a film a complete unknown. The TV movie may be known by some as a feature-length drama. However, it has also expanded itself to other genres such as science fiction, action and suspense. The TV movie becomes part of some TV channels' features, aiming to make people stay at home instead of going to the cinemas.
The 1957 TV production of The Pied Piper of Hamelin marked the beginning of TV movies, though the film itself was not originally dubbed as such. There were also some '40s and '50s TV features, similar to those recognised as a TV movie of today.
The production and features of a TV movie
A TV movie is sometimes regarded as inferior to theatrical films because of its having a lower budget and limited casting than a movie made for the big screen. The quality of film used for a TV movie is usually the same as the film used for TV series. The TV movie casting can also affect this perception of the telefilm's inferiority. Many actors in a TV movie are relatively unknown compared to movie actors who appear on the big screen. Meanwhile, there are actors and actresses that have been identified as TV personalities because they are usually hired to star in made-for-television movies.
A TV movie is well-known to have melodramatic tendencies, making it a lengthy version of soaps. This must be why a TV movie is sometimes called a feature-length drama -- it's dominant genre is drama. These drama features include true-to-life stories with lengthy titles. With continued development, different themes are also explored in TV movies that are shown in some local or cable channels.
Why some producers capitalise on a TV movie
A TV movie is cheaper to produce compared to a full-length film shown in cinemas. Still producers profit not only through the lower price of production. They profit more if TV movies are well-made and well-received by the target audience. A good TV movie may become a pilot or first episode of a TV series. It can be reproduced into DVD format to be sold in stores or can be released to foreign cinemas.