Sky Moves Into Original Film Production; Preps Debut Slate.
29 Jan 2018

London - 24th January 2018 - Sky is moving aggressively into the world of film financing and production with a new multi-million-pound investment pot. The British pay-TV broadcaster has revealed its debut slate of Sky ‘original films’ including animated feature Monster Family, The Hurricane Heist from The Fast and the Furious creator Rob Cohen, Clive Owen and Amanda Seyfried’s Anon and Pierce Brosnan’s Final Score.

Sky Cinema Director Ian Lewis tells me that it has made the move to give it “more influence and control” over the features on its movie channels in the UK and Ireland and wants to build on its slate of original TV dramas and comedies.

The 21st Century Fox-backed firm is looking to back around 6 movies in 2018. The first of these is family animation Monster Family, which stars the voice talents of Emily Watson, Nick Frost and Jason Isaacs and is directed by Holger Tappe. Produced by Ambient Entertainment, United Entertainment and Timeless Films, the film will launch on March 2.

In April, it will launch Cohen’s Maggie Grace-fronted The Hurricane Heist, which follows a team of hackers attempting to embark on a $600M robbery during a category 5 hurricane. The film is produced by Foresight Unlimited, Parkside Pictures and Windfall Productions and is distributed by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios.

It has also snapped up Anon, which is set in a near-future world where there is no privacy, ignorance or anonymity, and stars Owen and Seyfried. It comes after Netflix picked up U.S. and some foreign rights to the Andrew Niccol-directed thriller, which was produced by K5 Film with Sierra/Affinity handling international sales.

Finally, it has backed Brosnan and Dave Bautista soccer feature Final Score. The Scott Mann-directed film, which is centered around a stadium kidnapping, was produced by Signature Entertainment and The Fyzz Facility with Highland Film Group handling international sales.

Sky’s investment in each project will vary from title to title and it will look to do deals including traditional co-productions, co-financing as well as some UK acquisitions and early stage developments. He stressed that this was a new pot of money and he was not moving money from other parts of its budget.

“This allows us to help producers; there’s a lot of great ideas in the UK that haven’t come to fruition and we hope we can help that. The way that films are released needs to evolve and we’re finding a way to do that rather than waiting for others,” Lewis told Deadline.

The Sky movie chief added that as the number of films produced by the Hollywood studios continues to decrease, the move was necessary to ensure a pipeline for customers. Each of these films will also be released theatrically day-and-date with its Sky release with a sizeable marketing commitment.

Lewis is looking for more mainstream, contemporary films and is particularly interested in family animation, action movies, disaster flicks and heist dramas. He said that his team would be keeping a renewed eye on markets including the Berlin Film Festival, Cannes, Toronto and AFM. “We’re slowly getting ideas that we like and, God, we’d love more,” he added.

Peter White
Deadline Hollywood