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Channel 4 set to axe movie arm FilmFour

LONDON - Channel 4 is set to axe its ailing film production arm FilmFour after a string of box-offices flops including 'Charlotte Gray' starring Kate Blanchett, which was released earlier this year.

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As the flops have piled up, pressure from within Channel 4 to close FilmFour has grown. It has not had a hit since 1999 when it made 'East is East' and last year it lost £5m.

In its most recent financial report, Channel 4 said that FilmFour "did not manage to find a break-out film. It invested £31m in production and development and participated in films with a total production value of £112m".

Last month, Channel 4 said it was looking for an investment partner for its film production unit FilmFour, but it is believed that, having failed to find a partner, closure is its only remaining option.

It had hoped that its new romantic comedy 'Crush', starring Andy McDowell, might prove to be a hit. However, the film bombed and was panned in the US and in the UK. Other misses have included 'Lucky Break' and 'The Parole Officer' starring comedian Steve Coogan, who found more success with '24-Hour Party People', which was not a FilmFour movie.

Channel 4 wants to concentrate on its other commercial ventures, including its entertainment channel E4 and its string of movie channels, which are also known as FilmFour.

FilmFour has in its 20-year history racked up some notable successes including 'My Beautiful Laundrette', 'The Crying Game' and 'Trainspotting'.

In a statement issued in June, Channel 4 said: "Channel 4 has made no secret of the fact that it is looking at a number of options for its standalone film business FilmFour. These options include bringing in a partner to the business and we are in ongoing discussions with interested parties."

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