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Tuesday, 9 July, 2002, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
FilmFour failure is 'sad day'
West meets East: ( Stella) Emma Moorhouse and (Tariq) Jimi Mistry
East Is East - a low-budget hit for FilmFour
The UK film industry has reacted with sadness to the news of the closure of FilmFour as an independent production house.

While Channel 4 will reinstate FilmFour as a division of its TV operation and continue to invest in new films, the end of the company's sales and distribution function is seen as a reflection of the continuing problems of the UK industry.

Observers warned that FilmFour's attempts to compete with Hollywood had led to expensive failures.

Ken Loach
Loach: Films should "reflect our culture"
David Thompson, head of BBC Films, described it as "a very sad day" for the British film industry.

"The British film industry needs confidence right now and this doesn't inspire confidence," said Mr Thompson.

Bafta chairman Simon Relph said: "I think it's a great regret when a company that's been investing over 30m in British film suddenly decides to cut back and only invest 10m."

There was also some consensus that the new FilmFour should no longer attempt to compete with Hollywood by attempting to produce blockbusters for the US market.

Director Ken Loach, who worked with Channel 4 on films such as Riff-Raff and My Name Is Joe, said the UK needed to look to Europe.

"That's the cinema where we have much more in common than trying to join the north Americans at their game.

'Middle way'

"It is a good idea for FilmFour to make films that reflect our culture, our humour, and what's happening here - to make proper cinema films, not very low budget experimental films, I think that would be a backwards step.

"But there is a middle way - you make good solid films of a European dimension that do justice to our culture," said Mr Loach.

Scene from Trainspotting
Trainspotting was a major hit in 1996
Dr Kim Howells, film minister at the Department for Culture Media and Sport, said that FilmFour had to return to what it did best.

"Last night I spoke to somebody in Channel 4 who said we need to return to that formula of success we had before 1998, before we started making these blockbusters," he said.

"Trainspotting, My Beautiful Laundrette, East Is East - these were all made for about 2.5m each. And I'm absolutely convinced they can start doing that again."

Alexander Walker, film critic for London's Evening Standard newspaper, told BBC News Online that FilmFour deserved its fate.

"There will be fewer bad films around now that FilmFour has closed," he said.

"The recent film Crush, which didn't know whether it was a Carry On farce or a Four Weddings satire, cost 875,000 of National Lottery money.

"That money's lost - effectively unable to be recouped. The reason is that the boardroom - as not infrequently happens with these operations - got tired waiting for the promised box office blockbuster to come along.

"It's not bad luck, it's just incompetence and bad management."

'Major plank'

Others said they expected FilmFour to bounce back.

"I don't see any evidence that Channel 4 is coming out of the film industry," said Pinewood Studios boss Michael Grade - once the controller of Channel 4.

"They are as committed as ever to being a major plank in the British film industry and investing in British pictures.

"Channel 4 over the years has had an enormous amount of success internationally with small British pictures, and that's what they do best."

Producer Stephen Wooley said that FilmFour's biggest problem was bad luck: "The structure they had created at FilmFour was very sound - they were just unlucky with the product.

"In Hollywood you wouldn't destroy the machine, you'd just change the personnel," he added.

The BBC's Torin Douglas
"Film 4 has produced many of Britain's most successful films"
Former Channel 4 chief executive Michael Grade
"I do not see any evidence Channel 4 is coming out of the film industry"
Head of BBC Films David Thompson
"I think it is a very sad day for the British film industry"
Chairman of the BAFTA's Simon Relph
"Film is a very cyclical business"

FilmFour cuts
What does it mean for the UK film industry?

Movie moments

See also:

09 Jul 02 | Entertainment
09 Jul 02 | Entertainment
05 Jun 02 | Entertainment
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