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Too little investment in British family features, says Sky Movies head

Sky Movies director Ian Lewis has revealed that the company’s decision to develop and produce family films has been partly triggered by a lack of investment in the genre in the UK, calling on the UK production sector to pitch more ideas.

Ian Lewis, director of Sky Movies, has issued a rallying cry to the production community, encouraging them to pitch in family film ideas following Sky’s announcement earlier this month that it was to make a major investment in British films for television.

Speaking at an event in London today, Lewis said that although he had a few ideas in development, “it is early days and we don’t have enough ideas coming in. I’m keen to see more.”

He added that he was keen to speak to a range of suppliers beyond the established players. “We’re currently talking to all of the big UK production companies who are involved in high end TV drama, including Left Bank Pictures, Kudos and Ealing,” said Lewis.

Lewis also revealed that Sky’s decision to move into family movies had been triggered largely by a lack of investment in the UK in the genre. “The kids and family industry is completely under invested in this country. No-one is investing in family content, whether TV or film, and my only option has been to buy from overseas, so I’m hoping that our involvement will be very positive in that respect,” said Lewis, who pointed out that “week in, week out, the best performing movies for Sky are family movies.”

Sky Movies plans to produce two family features in 2013, with the eventual aim being to put out 5-6 films a year with budget of around £5m. There will be a particular focus on adventure, magic and mystery films.

As part of its multi million pound invesment, Sky will also focus on feature length docs - another genre which Lewis thinks has been lacking investment in the UK - to screen mainly on Sky Atlantic. “There hasn’t been that investment in real quality feature length documentaries. And we think they are something which fits very well on Atlantic,” said Lewis.

When it comes to a theatrical release for the films, Lewis said he would “not rule out, but only if it was beneficial to Sky customers”, adding that the biggest problem was finding the right partners to team with.

“If there is an opportunity to show them in the cinema, without my customers having to wait for it, I’d love to do that. Hopefully we can find some innovative partners to work with, but that’s not easy.”

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