BSkyB accused of blocking pic’s release

Filmmakers claim release pact broken

LONDON — British Sky Broadcasting is facing legal action from two filmmakers who claim the satcaster is blocking their movie from getting a U.K. cinema release.

Mary McGuckian and John Lynch, the director and star, respectively, of “Best,” will today seek an injunction to prevent BSkyB from transmitting the pic before it gets a chance at theatrical distribution.

McGuckian and Lynch also co-wrote and co-produced the film. They claim that Sky has broken its promise to arrange a theatrical release simultaneous with the pay TV premiere. “It was never our understanding that we were collaborating on a television film solely for Sky Pictures broadcast, or that it would not be afforded a theatrical release in the cinemas,” said the filmmakers, in a petition also signed by many members of the cast and crew.

Mounting pressure

Sky Pictures was created to secure pay TV exclusives for the satcaster, bypassing the theatrical window. But this has led to mounting tension with British filmmakers who want theatrical exposure in their home market.

Sky recently responded to that pressure by announcing a deal for selected pics to be released in the U.K. by its sister company 20th Century Fox.

But Sky and Fox rejected “Best” for such treatment. Sources close to the production say that Sky’s insistence on a pay TV premiere on the same day as the theatrical release has scared off other U.K. distribs.

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