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Sky takes aim at Netflix and Amazon with the launch of Sky Cinema Original Films

Friday, January 26th 2018 by Emma Woollacott

It's worked brilliantly for Netflix and Amazon; and now Sky is moving into original programming with the release of new movies through Sky Cinema.

The movies won't be in-house productions. Instead, Sky is choosing to acquire exclusive rights, commission original productions and sign co-financing deals. It's much the same strategy as Netflix uses, and Sky must be hoping its movies will be similarly popular.

The films will be released to Sky Cinema customers at the same time as they hit the big screen, meaning no painful wait; and the company reckons the move will be good for cinemas too, as they'll benefit from Sky's marketing activities.

"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," said Ian Lewis, group director of Sky Cinema.

"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 first film to be released will be Monster Family, an animated comedy that will launch in March. Voiced by stars including Emily Watson and Nick Frost, it follows the fortunes of a family turned into monsters by an evil witch.

At least half a dozen original movies this year

This will be followed by action move The Hurricane Heist in April, directed by Rob Cohen, creator of xXx and The Fast & The Furious. As a deadly hurricane bears down on the Gulf Coast of the US, a mandatory emergency evacuation is underway. But as the storm rages, a team of hackers is working to infiltrate a Treasury facility and steal 600mUSD; storm chaser and meteorologist Toby Kebbell has to foil the plot.

And later this year, Sky plans to release sci-fi crime thriller Anon and British production Final Score, with further movies to be announced soon - we're told to expect at least half a dozen more this year.

The move into original movies escalates Sky's battle with Netflix, which now has more than 117 million subscribers and says it plans to invest a whacking 8bnUSD in original programming in 2018.

Netflix costs £5.99 for a basic one-screen contract, or £7.99 for two simultaneous screens. Its premium service, which includes ultra HD and the ability to watch on four screens at the same time, costs £9.99. Meanwhile, Amazon Prime is priced at £7.99 a month.

Sky Cinema, which offers more than 1,000 movies on demand, is a more expensive proposition, costing £10 per month for existing Sky Customers. It's also available on demand and via Sky's streaming-only service Now TV.

Sky has of course been producing its own original content for years, and this isn't the first time the company has dabbled in movie production. However, its film-financing platform, Sky Pictures, was closed down in 2001 after just three years.

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