Europe's leading exhibitor Odeon and pay TV company Sky have announced a new collaboration, Odeon andSky Filmworks, which will act as a UK distributor, signing titles directly from film-makers.

The joint venture will offerfilms in cinemas, through VOD and DVD, and on television. Initially, Filmworksplans to release six films per year.

Filmworks projects will have a theatrical run at Odeon andother exhibitors, followed by DVD retail(including cinema foyer sales at Odeon) and DVD rental (including Odeon Direct).

Sky will get UK TV rightsand will offer films through Sky Box Office and its download service Sky MoviesBy Broadband, before UK television premieres on Sky Movies channels.

The companies said that "allreleases will be carefully timed to exploit potential gaps in the current filmcalendar." Publicity campaigns will use Odeon and Sky marketing channels.

The joint venture will berun by Tony Miller, former COO of productioncompany Natural Nylon (owned by Jude Law and EwanMcGregor) and TV producer Union Pictures.

"Our combined knowledge andunderstanding of the customer will give films distributed by Filmworks exposure to an audience they might not haveotherwise reached," said Sophie Turner Laing, deputymanaging director of Sky Channels and Services. "Indeed, the huge success ofSky's innovative movie broadband download service underlines the shift in filmviewing towards new delivery methods.Ownership of certain titles istherefore a logical step that gives us more ways to enhance the experience forour viewers across all platforms."

Sky's broadband moviedownload service has already delivered more than 750,000 downloads.

Rupert Gavin, CEO of Odeon,added: "This joint venture is great news for film-makers, especially British ones,as Filmworks is another route to market for them'Itwill also enable ODEON to gain benefit for the first time from the value itcreates in the theatrical window for product, by having a financial share in thesubsequent windows for films."