Free, every day. Film4’s unbeatable line-up of great movies guarantees something for every type of film fan. Film4 showcases the widest range of titles including.
Film4 was started in 1982 as Film4 Productions, a film production company owned by Channel Four Television Corporation and has been responsible for backing a large number of films made in the United Kingdom, and around the world. The company’s first production was Walter, directed by Stephen Frears, which was released in 1982. In late 1998, the outfit was re-branded as FilmFour, to coincide with the launch of a new Digital TV channel of the same name on the Sky Digital and ONdigital platforms. Film4 was originally known as FilmFour and became Channel 4’s second channel (after Channel 4 itself). It was a subscription-only service available on satellite television via the Sky platform, digital terrestrial via ITV Digital (until the platform went into administration in 2002), and most UK cable services. It cost £6 a month, eventually rising to £7. The launch night, which was also broadcast on Channel 4, was hosted by Johnny Vaughan and the first film to be shown was The Usual Suspects.
Channel 4 cut its budget from £30 to £10 million and 50 staff in 2002, due to mounting losses, and re-integrated FilmFour as a division of its TV operation to continue to invest in new films. The cuts were a consequence of FilmFour’s unsuccessful attempts to compete with Hollywood. 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,”
In 2004, Tessa Ross became head of both Film4 and Channel 4 drama. The name “Film4 Productions” was introduced in 2006 to tie in with the relaunch of the FilmFour broadcast channel as Film4. FilmFour Weekly ceased broadcasting on 19 July 2006 when the subscription service ended. The subscription service ended on 19 July 2006 and the channel re-launched (under the slightly modified name of Film4) as a free-to-air service a few days later on 23 July. When the channel became free, it also returned to digital terrestrial as part of the Freeview brand, and became completely free-to-air on satellite television. Due to the change, the channel’s availability increased from 300,000 (subscribers) to 18 million households. It also changed its broadcasting hours to 12:45 – 08:45, and commercial breaks were included during films for the first time. The first film broadcast under the new format was the British non-subscription television premiere of Lost in Translation. Prior to the arrivals of Movie Mix and movies4men on the Freeview platform, Film4 was the only free film channel available on digital terrestrial television.
From 23 May 2009, the broadcasting hours were changed to 11:00am – 04:00am, with it broadcasting teleshopping or an animated caption stating it will return at 11:00 during the downtime hours.
On 1 November 2010, Film4 partnered with FilmFlex to launch Film4oD.
On 2 September 2014, Film4 debuted a new on-air look, designed by Man vs. Machine. There are 15 new idents in the series which run alongside a new on-screen presentation.