British broadcaster Sky has announced it will be showcasing original films for the first time in 2018.
While Sky Cinema (formerly known as Sky Movies) has existed since 1989, it has never produced original films before.
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The first of these original films, Monster Family, will debut in March. Catherine Tate, Jason Isaacs, Emily Watson, and Nick Frost are confirmed to voice characters in the children’s animation.
The film itself looks similar to Hotel Transylvania and will follow a family who accidentally get transformed into monsters during a holiday.
Monster Family will be followed by Hurricane Heist in April. Sky has also acquired the rights to Final Score, a Taken-style spy thriller and Anon, a sci-fi thriller with Clive Owen and Amanda Seyfried.
These films will be released on Sky Cinema on the same day as they appear at cinemas. Sky is hoping this distribution agreement will work both ways. The Sky advertising will boost cinema footfall and cinema releases will boost Sky subscribers.
Ian Lewis, group director of Sky Cinema said:
“Sky Cinema already offers Hollywood hits, cult classics and local legends, and with Sky Cinema Original Films we’re going to bring our customers even more laughs, shocks, tears and memories than ever before.
“Sky’s original content strategy has already been successful across eight genres of television – now we’re taking it to film to give our content-hungry customers even more reasons to keep coming back.”
The original press release claims there are many more Sky Original films yet to be announced.
Who is behind Sky’s original films?
Notably, none of these films are in-house productions from Sky. Unlike a competitor like Amazon, for example, Sky has not set up its own studios to create these programmes. A more accurate reflection of Sky’s ‘original’ programming is that the company has increased distribution rights for these films.
To be fair to Sky, that’s the exact model that Netflix use. Few of Netflix’s original series are made in-house.
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Stranger Things, Orange Is The New Black, and House Of Cards, for example, are all made by external production companies and financed by Netflix.
Awkwardly, this means that at least one of the Sky Originals, Anon, is also going to be distributed by Netflix outside of the UK.
Sky actually attempted to create a film-financing platform, Sky Pictures, in 1998 at the suggestion of Elizabeth Murdoch.
However, after a lack of success, the venture was closed in 2001. Murdoch went on to create her own production company, Shine.
Sky’s announcement follows Netflix’s $100bn valuation which itself was accompanied by news that Netflix plans to invest $8bn in original programming in 2018.