UK film-making duo Mary McGuckian and John Lynch have succeeded in their bid to prevent satellite broadcaster BSkyB from carrying the film Best on one of its movie channels.
The duo secured a court injunction against the satellite powerhouse in the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday to prevent the film from hitting television screens on March 12. The injunction will mean the film is not aired before May this year and gives McGuckian and Lynch the opportunity to secure UK theatrical distribution before the title is shown on satellite television. The producers claimed that Sky Pictures was "frustrating the traditional theatrical release pattern that supports our industry."
McGuckian co-wrote and directed the project with husband Lynch who takes a writing and production credit on the title. BSkyB's film production arm Sky Pictures is one of the investors and takes a production credit on the film which details the life of one of football's most famous and colourful characters George Best. The title was one of the first to be greenlit under Sky Pictures' entry into the UK production arena almost two years ago.
In deciding the case Justice Goldring accepted the film makers argument that the prospects of a distributor or exhibitor releasing a film theatrically after it had aired would be unlikely. The duo also aim to sell the film around the world and claim those prospects would also be damaged.
"The international marketplace for British feature films is very much determined by their UK theatrical release. A film that does not appear in cinemas here is unlikely to achieve theatrical or any other kind of distribution arrangement anywhere else in the world," said Mary McGuckian.
Sky Pictures reacted swiftly, rejecting the film-makers' version of events. The outfit said in a statement: "Sky Pictures is proud of Best and remains committed to working with the producers to secure a theatrical release for it during the further three months granted by today's injunction. We are, however, dismayed by Best Films' misleading public comments on this matter. In particular, the plan to hold a simultaneous TV broadcast and theatrical release - which is unaffected by today's judgement - was at the suggestion of Best Films themselves, and not Sky; and Best Films - as well as Sky - have previously vetoed proposals for a theatrical release."
Plans for a theatrical release by fledgling UK distributor Optimum Releasing sometime during May this year in the UK are going ahead.