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Channel 4 earmarks extra £1m annually to develop comedy feature films

Slate led by Shane Allen [pictured] will get this funding in addition to usual pot of £15m annually at Film4; On The Road to have UK premiere at Somerset House.

Channel 4 will invest an additional £1m annually in developing new British comedy films, Film4 head Tessa Ross has revealed.

This is good news for the UK film industry as it comes on top of Film4’s annual £15m pot of funding (which was raised from £10m in 2010).

This move comes after the huge success of The Inbetweeners, the E4 comedy series that was turned into a huge hit movie that grossed more than $72m in the UK (that film was fully financed by Channel 4’s Film4 and 4DVD).

Shane Allen, Channel 4’s head of comedy and the executive producer behind The Inbetweeners on TV and the big-screen, will commission the new slate of features for cinema release and will work closely with the existing Film4 team. He will build on his existing relationships with comedy talents for that slate; it should be noted that Film4’s usual slate will continue to include other comedic films as usual that will be commissioned by the likes of Tessa Ross and Katherine Butler.

Ross made the announcement tonight at Film4’s annual pre-Cannes party at Belvedere House in Holland Park, London.

Allen’s other TV hits include Facejacker, Star Stories, Friday Night Dinner, and Comic Strip: The Hunt For Tony Blair.

Allen said: “This is a fantastic adrenaline shot for more British film comedy following on from the overwhelming audience appetite we experienced last summer. The recent explosion in live comedy is because it’s a very communal experience, so with the huge expertise of Film4 it’s a brilliant opportunity to tap the cinematic potential of UK writing and performing talent.”

Tessa Ross, Channel 4’s Controller of Film and Drama, added: “We’re thrilled to be working with Shane on developing comedy features – with his impeccable track record and huge wealth of experience we know we are in for some seriously entertaining films.” 

At the industry-heavy party, Ross also announced that Walter Salles’ Cannes Competition title On The Road will have its UK premiere on Aug 16 opening the Film4 Summer Screen series at London’s Somerset House.

Also in Cannes, Film4 has Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers and Fyzal Boulifa’s short The Curse.

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