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Sky Cinema
Sky Cinema - Logo 2020.svg
Picture format2160p UHDTV
(downscaled to 1080i and 16:9 576i for the HDTV and SDTV feeds, respectively)
OwnerSky Group (Comcast)
Sister channelsBlaze
Crime & Investigation
Sky One
Sky Arts
Sky Atlantic
Sky Comedy
Sky Crime
Sky Documentaries
Sky History
Sky History 2
Sky Nature
Sky News
Sky Replay
Sky Sports
Sky Sports Box Office
Sky Sports F1
Sky Sports News
Sky Sports Racing
Sky Witness
Launched5 February 1989; 31 years ago (1989-02-05)
ReplacedThe Power Station on the BSB service
Former namesSky Movies (1989–2016)
Virgin Media (UK)Channels 401–412 (HD)
On Demand
Virgin Media (Ireland)Channels 301–309, 312, 318, 320
Channels 331–342 (HD)
SkyChannels 301–312 (SD/HD)
Channels 842, 844–850 (SD)
On Demand
TalkTalk TVChannels 501–511 (SD)
On Demand
Eir VisionChannels 301, 303–312 (SD)
BT TV (via Now TV)Channels 500–511 (SD)
Channels 514–525 (HD)
On Demand
Streaming media
Sky GoWatch live (UK & Ireland only)
Now TVWatch live (UK and Ireland only)
Virgin TV AnywhereWatch live (UK only)

Sky Cinema is a group of British pay television film channels owned by Sky, a division of Comcast. In the UK, Sky Cinema channels currently broadcast on the Sky satellite and Virgin Media cable platforms, and in addition Sky Cinema on demand content are available through these as well as via Now TV, BT TV and TalkTalk TV.

In 2016, Sky rebranded its television film channel operations under one single Sky Cinema branding: on 8 July 2016, the channels in the UK and Ireland were rebranded from Sky Movies to Sky Cinema; on 22 September in Germany and Austria, the Sky Cinema brand (originally used for the flagship channel) was extended to the German channels in the group formerly known as Sky Film; the Italian Sky Cinema channels followed suit on 5 November by adopting the brand packages introduced in the UK and Ireland earlier.


1989–1998: Early years

Sky Movies was originally a single film channel offered as part of Sky's original four-channel package (along with Sky Channel, Sky News and Eurosport) on the Astra 1A satellite on 5 February 1989,[citation needed] the first film shown on the channel was 1987's Dirty Dancing, starring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze.[clarification needed] Prior to its launch, Sky Movies signed first-run deals with 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Domestic Pay TV, Cable and Network Features, Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Orion Pictures and Buena Vista Distribution Co.[citation needed]

After one year of broadcasting free-to-air, on 5 February 1990,[1] it became the first Sky channel to scramble its signal, using a card-encryption system called VideoCrypt which rendered the picture totally obscured to anyone attempting to view it without a decoder and smart card.[citation needed]

When Sky Television merged with rival British Satellite Broadcasting on 2 November 1990, it acquired BSB's The Movie Channel. With the launch of the second Astra satellite (1B) on 15 April 1991, becoming part of the Sky package, and the first film shown was 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, starring Harrison Ford and Sean Connery.[clarification needed] Similarly, Sky Movies was made available to viewers on BSB's old satellite on 8 April 1991, replacing the music channel The Power Station. From the re-launch of the channel under BSkyB, The Movie Channel's ident was made by Pacific Data Images and heavily based on NBC's film opening used from 1987 to 1993.[clarification needed]

During 1991, Sky Movies and The Movie Channel started broadcasting for 24 hours per day,[2] in addition of these times for 6.00pm, 8.00pm and 10.00pm, Sky Movies had several different film genre slots were used each evening such as:

  • Monday Night Comedy
  • Tuesday Night Action
  • Thursday Night Horror
  • After Dark – used for Wednesdays and Saturdays at around 11.30pm, will feature erotic films with sexually explicit material and various adult-oriented content.

Most eventually, The Movie Channel started at later times for 6.15pm, 8.15pm and 10.15pm in the evenings, as well as begin showing classic films and also include children's films at 4.00pm during the daytime.

For two years in the early 1990s, the channel carried various non-film premium content such as live boxing, music concerts and World Wrestling Federation's special events such as UK Rampage and WrestleMania (the first event was WrestleMania VI on 1 April 1990). This was because at this time all of Sky's other channels, including Sky Sports were shown free-to-air and during this period, the channel was often referred to as Sky Movies Plus. When Sky Sports became a pay channel on 1 September 1992, Sky Movies stopped showing non-movie related programming.

On 1 October 1992, The Comedy Channel was replaced by Sky Movies Gold, a "classic movies" service from 4.00pm to midnight every day and it was added as a three-channel Sky Movies package, Rocky (starring Sylvester Stallone) was the first film is shown on the network.

From 1 February 1993, British Sky Broadcasting introduces a new system of film ratings often used for various times (with the exceptions of U and PG) in different colours, replacing the British Board of Film Classification certificates, and remained on air until 31 October 1997:

Rating Description
U "Universal" – suitable for all audiences at any time.
PG "Parental Guidance" is recommended – some scenes may be unsuitable for young or sensitive children.
7 Suitable for transmission at 7.00pm, may also include edited versions of any otherwise unsuitable titles.
8 Suitable for transmission at 8.00pm, broadly in line with the BBFC 15 certificate.
9 This classification reflecting the 9.00pm watershed, which covers films of more adult nature that may contain strong language or violence.
10 Suitable for transmission at 10.00pm, is equivalent to the BBFC 18 certificate, and that is suitable for adult audiences only.
11 Suitable for transmission during 11.00pm, in which films of an explicit nature for adult viewing but mostly showing uncut versions, offer include martial arts and erotic films were also used.

The two main channels were rebranded under a common brand on 1 November 1997, Sky Movies became Sky Movies Screen 1 and The Movie Channel became Sky Movies Screen 2.[3]

1998–2003: Digital era

After a rebrand on 10 September 1998, Sky Movies Screen 1 became Sky MovieMax, Sky Movies Screen 2 became Sky Premier, and Sky Movies Gold was renamed Sky Cinema.[4]

The launch of Sky Digital from the new Astra 28.2°E satellite position on 1 October 1998 was accompanied by a major expansion of channels.[5] Sky Premier and Sky MovieMax both added three multiplex channels each (Sky Premier 2 to 4 and Sky MovieMax 2 to 4), Sky Cinema launched Sky Cinema 2, and additionally, Sky Premier Widescreen – at the time was the only channel devoted to showing widescreen films were all launched exclusively on digital satellite.[citation needed] On 15 November 1998, Sky MovieMax and Sky Premier launched on the ONdigital terrestrial platform.[6] On 1 October 1999, Sky MovieMax 5 was launched.[7]

1 July 2002 saw yet another re-branding exercise, while the Sky Premier channels were renamed Sky Movies Premier, the Sky MovieMax channels became Sky Movies Max and the Sky Cinema channels became Sky Movies Cinema.[8] Eventually in June 2003, Sky listened to demands for more widescreen films, the channel was closed and the majority of films on the remaining channels were actually shown in widescreen.[9]

2003–2007: Rebrand

On 1 November 2003, the Sky Movies Premier and Sky Movies Max channels were all brought under one banner as simply Sky Movies 1 to 9. At the same time, Sky Movies Cinema 1 and 2 became Sky Cinema 1 and 2.[10]

Sky Movies along with numerous other channels became available to watch via Sky Mobile TV in 2005, in partnership with Vodafone.[11]

From 30 January 2006, Sky Movies 9 and the new Sky Movies 10 started broadcasting from 5.00pm to 3.00am. They were PIN-protected, meaning that for the first time when films with a 15 certificate were able to be shown as early as 5.00pm. With the launch of Sky HD, the two channels were also available in a high definition format.[12]

2007–2016: Sky Movies goes categorised

From 4 April 2007, Sky Movies channels were revamped with each channel covering a different genre,[13] but three of the HD channels have launched already before the other:[citation needed]

  • Premiere (includes +1)
  • Comedy
  • Action & Thriller
  • Family
  • Drama
  • Classics
  • Sci-Fi & Horror
  • Modern Greats
  • Indie
  • HD1 and HD2

Sky later made Sky Movies HD1 and HD2 available to subscribers without HDTV equipment through two channels simulcasting the same content in SDTV format, the channels were known as Sky Movies SD1 and SD2. These channels were renamed Sky Movies Screen 1 and Screen 2 in February 2008, and the HDTV channels were renamed Sky Movies Screen 1 HD and Screen 2 HD accordingly.[14] On 20 March 2008, an additional high definition film channel called Sky Movies Premiere HD, which is a high definition simulcast version of the current Sky Movies Premiere channel, was added after many requests for the channel from Sky HD subscribers.[original research?]

Sky also announced that in October 2008, they would launch six new high-definition simulcast channels called Sky Movies Action/Thriller HD, Sky Movies Sci-Fi/Horror HD, Sky Movies Drama HD, Sky Movies Modern Greats HD, Sky Movies Family HD and Sky Movies Comedy HD.[15] This means that almost all Sky Movies channels are broadcast in both standard- and high-definition, except for Sky Movies Premiere +1, Sky Movies Classics and Sky Movies Indie which remained standard-definition only until Sky Movies Indie HD launched on 26 October 2009.[16][17]

Sky Movies were rebranded as the part of the Sky channels rebranding on 1 January 2010.

On 26 March 2010, some Sky Movies channels were renamed, the new Sky Movies Showcase channel replaced Sky Movies Screen 1, carrying box sets, collections and seasons. Sky Movies also reshuffled its bouquet of ten channels to achieve greater "clarity" for subscribers. The changes included Sky Movies Action & Thriller becoming Sky Movies Action & Adventure, Sky Movies Drama becoming Sky Movies Drama & Romance and Sky Movies Screen 2 becoming Sky Movies Crime & Thriller.[18] The Sky Movies HD channels launched on the Virgin Media platform on 2 August 2010.[19]

Sky Movies Classics HD launched on 9 August 2010, exclusively on Sky.[20] The channel was added to Virgin Media on 4 October 2011.[original research?] Smallworld Cable added the Sky Movies HD channels to their line-up in the first quarter of 2012,[21] followed by UPC Ireland on 16 August 2012.[22]

On 28 March 2013, Sky Movies Disney was launched, effectively replacing Disney Cinemagic, as part of a multi-year film output deal between Sky and The Walt Disney Company.[23] Sky Movies Disney marked the first time that Disney has been involved in a co-branded linear film channel anywhere in the world,[24] included new Disney films are available on Sky Movies Disney around six months after they have ended their cinema run. To facilitate the channel, Sky Movies Classics ceased broadcasting, while Sky Movies Modern Greats was rebranded as Sky Movies Greats and Sky Movies Indie became Sky Movies Select.[25][26] The content of the three former brands was merged into Select and Greats.[27]

2016–present: Rebrand to Sky Cinema and 4K UHD

On 15 June 2016, Sky announced that Sky Movies would rebrand as Sky Cinema on 8 July. This change aligns the service's naming with those of Sky's film services in other regions, in consort with Sky plc's takeover of Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia. To compete with subscription video-on-demand services, Sky announced that the re-branded service would premiere a new film each day, and that it would expand the service's on-demand library. Sky also announced plans to launch a 4K ultra-high-definition feed later in the year.[28][29] 4K films became available on 13 August 2016 for Sky Q customers with a 2TB box and Sky Cinema and multi-screen packs. 70 were available by the end of 2016.[30]

In January 2018, Sky announced a partnership with film distributor Altitude Film Distribution, with the launch of Sky Cinema Original Films, this new brand would distribute films for Sky Cinema's on-demand service, as well as release them into cinemas. The first film under the new banner was the United Kingdom release of the animated film Monster Family. Other films like The Hurricane Heist, Anon, Final Score and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile have also been released.

In June 2020, Sky added a content warning to several older films stating that they "have outdated attitudes, language, and cultural depictions which may cause offence today".[31]

On 23 July 2020, Sky Cinema launched a twelfth channel, Sky Cinema Animation, replacing Sky Cinema Premiere +1 on Sky and Virgin Media UK. Sky Cinema Premiere +1 continued to air on Virgin Media Ireland until its removal on 13 August 2020.[32]


Sky regularly gives one, two or three of their Sky Cinema channels a temporary rebrand to air different kinds of seasonal or promotional programming. As of July 2020, the current Sky Cinema channels are:

Channels[33] Temporary channel re-brands[34][35][36][37][38]
Sky Cinema Premiere N/A
Sky Cinema Select Sky Cinema Adventure
Sky Cinema Best of...
Sky Cinema Blockbusters
Sky Cinema Classics
Sky Cinema Cops & Robbers
Sky Cinema DC Heroes
Sky Cinema Feel Good
Sky Cinema Harry Potter
Sky Cinema Lord of the Rings
Sky Cinema Musicals
Sky Cinema Spooky
Sky Cinema Star Wars
Sky Cinema Superheroes
Sky Cinema Tom Hanks
Sky Cinema Transformers
Sky Cinema Twilight
Sky Cinema Westerns
Sky Cinema Will Smith
Sky Cinema Wizarding World
Sky Cinema Hits Sky Cinema DC Heroes
Sky Cinema Fast & Furious
Sky Cinema Matt Damon
Sky Cinema Megahits
Sky Cinema Pirates of the Caribbean
Sky Cinema Pixar
Sky Cinema Spooky
Sky Cinema Greats Sky Cinema Back to the Future
Sky Cinema Brits
Sky Cinema Denzel Washington
Sky Cinema Harry Potter
Sky Cinema Jurassic
Sky Cinema M:I (Mission Impossible)
Sky Cinema Musicals
Sky Cinema Oscars
Sky Cinema Pets
Sky Cinema Pirates of the Caribbean
Sky Cinema School's Out
Sky Cinema Spies
Sky Cinema Star Trek
Sky Cinema Star Wars
Sky Cinema Superheroes
Sky Cinema Tom Cruise
Sky Cinema Tom Hanks
Sky Cinema Villains
Sky Cinema Animation -
Sky Cinema Family Sky Cinema Adventure
Sky Cinema Fairy Tales
Sky Cinema Harry Potter
Sky Cinema Kids Books
Sky Cinema Spooky
Sky Cinema Disney Sky Cinema Pixar
Sky Cinema Action Sky Cinema Action Men
Sky Cinema Heroes
Sky Cinema Wonder Women
Sky Cinema Comedy Sky Cinema Adam Sandler
Sky Cinema April Fools
Sky Cinema Thriller Sky Cinema Bourne
Sky Cinema Heists
Sky Cinema Spies
Sky Cinema Drama Sky Cinema Christmas
Sky Cinema Julia Roberts
Sky Cinema True Stories
Sky Cinema Valentine
Sky Cinema Weddings
Sky Cinema Women in Film
Sky Cinema Sci-Fi & Horror Sky Cinema Aliens
Sky Cinema Halloween
Sky Cinema Monsters
Sky Cinema Sky-Fi
Sky Cinema Star Wars
Sky regularly gives their Sky Cinema channels temporary re-brands to air different kinds of seasonal or promotional programming.

Original productions

Sky Cinema has a dedicated production team that produces over 100 hours of original film-related programming each year – including Sky Cinema News (a half-hour weekly film release round-up), and UK/US Box Office Top Tens. In addition, Sky's close relationships with the film studios means it regularly gets exclusive access on-set and to talent for one-off 'making-ofs', talent-based programming etc.[citation needed]

In 1998, Elisabeth Murdoch (who was Sky's director of channels and services at the time) advocated Sky setting up a film funding and production unit (similar to BBC Films and Film4 Productions). The result was Sky Pictures, which existed in order to invest in both low-budget and mainstream British films. However, following a lack of success and her decision to leave Sky and set up her own production company, Shine, the unit was scaled back and closed in 2001.[citation needed]


  3. ^ "Sky Channels To Be Rebranded". Mediatel. 10 October 1997.
  4. ^ "Second Sky Rebranding in Nine Months". Mediatel. 22 July 1998.
  5. ^ "About Sky". Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "1st for digital satellite TV news - What Satellite TV Online". 6 December 2003. Archived from the original on 6 December 2003. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  9. ^ "1st for Sky Digital and satellite TV news - What Satellite & Digital TV Online - Freeview and Sky Digital". 6 December 2003. Archived from the original on 6 December 2003. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  10. ^ "1st for Sky Digital and satellite TV news - What Satellite & Digital TV Online - Freeview and Sky Digital". 6 December 2003. Archived from the original on 6 December 2003. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  11. ^ "BSkyB and Vodafone link up to deliver mobile TV service". 31 October 2005.
  12. ^ "1st for Sky Digital and satellite TV news - What Satellite & Digital TV Online - Freeview and Sky Digital news". 14 January 2006. Archived from the original on 14 January 2006. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  13. ^ "". Retrieved 19 May 2007.
  14. ^ "Name tweak for Sky Movies channels". Digital Spy. 24 December 2007.
  15. ^ "Sky launches seven new HD channels". Broadband TV News. 20 August 2008.
  16. ^ "October on Indie". Sky Movies. Archived from the original on 1 October 2009.
  17. ^ "Sky Movies Indie goes HD". Broadcast. 30 September 2009.
  18. ^ "Sky Movies Screen 1 to become Showcase". Digital Spy. 18 February 2010.
  19. ^ "Virgin Media Shows Its Competitors the Red Card". Virgin Media. 20 July 2010.
  20. ^ "SKY MOVIES CLASSICS GOES HD" (PDF). Sky Programme Information. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  21. ^ "Sky Sports, Sky Movies to launch in HD on Smallworld Cable". Digital Spy. 2 November 2011.
  22. ^ "UPC adds 19 Sky channels in HD". TechCentral. 15 August 2012.
  23. ^ "Sky Movies Disney: new channel to show UK TV film premieres". The Guardian. 21 February 2013.
  24. ^ "Sky Movies Disney channel to launch on Sky in March". Digital Spy. 21 February 2013.
  25. ^ "BARB Reported Channels". 22 March 2013. Sky Movies Classics will cease broadcasting on 27th March 2013.
  26. ^ "BARB Reported Channels". 14 March 2013. Sky Movies Modern Greats will rebrand to Sky Movies Greats on 28th March, 2013. Sky Movies Indie will rebrand to Sky Movies Select on 28 March 2013.
  27. ^ "Sky Movies: new channels, new line-up". Sky Movies. 4 March 2013.
  28. ^ "Sky Movies rebrand to feature one premiere a day". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  29. ^ "Sky Movies is changing to Sky Cinema, but what has really changed?". 15 June 2016.
  30. ^ "Sky Q major software update rolling out: Here's what your Sky Q box can do now – Pocket-lint".
  31. ^ "Sky adds "outdated attitudes" warnings to some movies". Raidió Teilifís Eireann. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  32. ^ "Sky Cinema are launching a channel dedicated to animated movies". Tellymix. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  33. ^ "Sky Cinema Month Pass | Now TV - Help". Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  34. ^ "List of line-up changes on Sky (UK and Ireland) in 2016 – TVCL – TV Channel Lists". Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  35. ^ "List of line-up changes on Sky (UK and Ireland) in 2017 – TVCL – TV Channel Lists". Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  36. ^ "List of line-up changes on Sky (UK and Ireland) in 2018 – TVCL – TV Channel Lists". Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  37. ^ "List of line-up changes on Sky (UK and Ireland) in 2019 – TVCL – TV Channel Lists". Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  38. ^ "List of line-up changes on Sky (UK and Ireland) in 2020 – TVCL – TV Channel Lists". Retrieved 22 July 2020.

External links

This page was last edited on 30 November 2020, at 20:23
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