Film GB will launch on November 1 with six brand-new British features never seen on TV before. The British film channel will show mainly indie films, screening classic movies in the afternoons. Electric Sofa, the channel operator, thinks there’s plenty of demand for a British film channel.
Electric Sofa is also launching a US indie film channel, licensing movies from mainly US sales agents, plus a general tabloid-feeling entertainment channel with docs about celebs.
Andrew Burns, joint MD of Electric Sofa, used to be COO of another BSkyB film channel, Film 24. That went into liquidation in May despite increasing its weekly audience from 240,000 to 800,000 year-on-year. Former owner Angad Paul owns indie sales agent AV Pictures. “The board decided that the channel just wasn’t growing fast enough despite the audience growth,” one insider tells me. What Burns took away from that experience was that a standalone film channel just doesn’t work. You need to have at least three channels you can sell advertising across.
Private investors are putting up cash for the channel launch. Distributors are being offered equity in exchange for licensing their films. Three channel sponsors have already come on board. Burns and fellow MD Ursula Adeane are talking to advertisers.
Given that around half the films made in Britain each year never get picked up for cinema release, producers will be pleased to know there’s somebody out there willing to give their films a TV airing. Burns tells me producers will probably have to make do with a revenue share — although hard cash upfront is not out of the question. It all depends how badly he wants the film.
Film GB estimates up to 1 million viewers a week within 6 months.