UPDATE: The pay-TV giant wants to hear pitches for movies and two-part miniseries as it moves back into original feature production. Sky wants to co-produce three big event TV movies each year. The problem, it says, will be finding UK projects of sufficient scale and quality – a problem which Warner Bros also faces developing British blockbusters. Brit producers tend to think small-scale and intimate. “We’re looking for big exclusive events that can add value to the movie subscription,” Ian Lewis, director of Sky Movies tells me. “A lot of the projects we’ve sifted already were easy to turn down.
“We’re looking for the kinds of stories, cast and production values that we would see on the movie channels.”
Sky Movies HD has announced the TV giant’s first foray back into original feature production since the late 90s. Neverland is a Peter Pan origin story starring Rhys Ifans as the young Captain Hook, Anna Friel as his rival Captain Bonny and Bob Hoskins reprising his role as Smee from Spielberg’s Hook. Charlie Rowe (Never Let Me Go) will star as Peter Pan. Nick Willing, who helmed Tin Man for Syfy in the US, is directing. Syfy is co-funding Neverland with Sky. Irish indie Parallel Films is the producer. RHI Entertainment is distributing internationally. Filming starts next week on location in Genoa, Italy and then move on to Dublin.
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As expected, BBC director general Mark Thompson has gone on the attack against the Murdochs and News Corp. He warned that Sky will shortly become Britain’s biggest broadcaster and said such a concentration of cross-media ownership would not be allowed in the U.S.. Thompson blasted Sky for spending so little on original programming and pointed out that the £100 million it spends each year is not much more than Channel 5’s UK programme budget. This is despite Sky’s £5.9 billion turnover being more than 15 times that of Five’s.
Thompson also used his keynote Edinburgh TV festival speech to single out News Corp for weakening and undermining the BBC. At times, he evoked playwright Dennis Potter’s fiery 1993 Mactaggart lecture pouring bile on Rupert Murdoch. Thompson defended the BBC as an idea of “public space”, one which “would not put anybody on the wrong side of an encryption wall”. Thompson criticised the Murdoch press for chipping away at the BBC trying to uncover some new petty scandal. Stories attacking the BBC were ramped up, distorted or just plain nonsense, Thompson said. One reporter cheerfully admitted to him that his newspaper bosses were just out to get the Corporation. The free-marketers have spent the last 25 years making a case for abolishing the BBC, said Thompson, yet public support for the Beeb has actually increased.
“Enemies of public service broadcasting always want to atomise … Read More »