This should make UK producers happy: BSkyB has announced a “major new investment” in original British content to feed its Sky Movies and Sky Atlantic channels. News Corp-controlled BSkyB, whose chairman, James Murdoch, stepped down earlier this week, is planning significant backing for British feature-length family films and documentaries, the company said today. The group says the new productions are part of its “on-going drive to bring more high-quality, exclusive content to customers” and are supported by its “commitment to increase investment in home-grown programming to £600 million by 2014.” The move could also be considered a response to a UK film policy review that earlier this year called for more investment in local production from broadcasters – specifically Sky and ITV.
Sky’s recent local family commissions include Neverland with Rhys Ifans, Anna Friel, Bob Hoskins and Keira Knightley as Tinkerbell and Treasure Island with Eddie Izzard and Elijah Wood. Some new projects are already in development with further greenlighted pics to be given a roughly £5 million budget. The funding is coming out of a dedicated six-figure chest. On the documentary side, up to 12 productions will form a new slate on Sky Atlantic, the channel that launched in 2011 with top-tier shows like Boardwalk Empire and, now, Mad Men. Aiming to make the channel a destination for top-quality documentaries, Sky said, “the brief is going out to the world’s best documentary makers to come to the channel with bold ideas.” A full press release follows: