Sky has announced a “multi-million pound” investment in British films, with the company pledging £600 million by 2014.
The films will be made exclusively for viewing on Sky’s own channels and will be “aimed at the whole family”, the company said in a statement.
Projects will be of a similar scale to recent home-grown productions like Treasure Island (starring Eddie Izzard) and Neverland (featuring Anna Friel and Bob Hoskins), and will have budgets of around £5 million each.
Sky will also make up to 12 peak time documentaries that will be shown on Sky Atlantic HD. The company said it wants the channel to become the “gold standard of documentary films”.
The films are expected to premiere in 2013, and Sky is looking for film-makers to come forward with ideas.
Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s chief executive, said in a statement: “We see a real opportunity in British films. Now we intend to green light more family films for Sky customers and help more of the best documentary makers to bring the films they most want to make to the screen. This is an ambitious plan that will bring benefits to the wider creative industries as well as to Sky and our customers.”
Previously Sky has been criticised by BBC Director General Mark Thompson for not spending enough on nurturing British talent. “It’s time Sky pulled its weight by investing much, much more in British talent and British content,” he told an audience at the Edinburgh Festival two years ago.
The plans follow a call from the government in January for major broadcasters to invest more in the production of independent British film.
The Future of British Film, a report published by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, made 56 recommendations aimed at expanding and encouraging the British film industry.
Lord Smith, who authored the report, said that although British film is enjoying something of a “golden period”, the industry couldn’t afford to be complacent.
“British film is in prime position to make a major contribution to the growth of the UK’s economy, to the development of attractive and fulfilling careers for young people and to the creation of job opportunities across the country,” he said in a statement.