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Up to 60 jobs go as FilmFour is closed

LONDON - As expected, Channel 4 is to close its film production house FilmFour, the company behind hit films such as 'Trainspotting' and 'Four Weddings and a Funeral', with the loss of a significant number of jobs.

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The closure will see the production house integrated into Channel 4's production division, which will in turn be given a £10m annual budget increase for film commissions.

FilmFour, which employs around 60 staff, will enter into a 30-day consultation period with the broadcaster shortly. Most staff are expected to face redundancy.

The announcement was made by Channel 4 chief executive Mark Thompson as part of a number of sweeping changes at the company following his appointment earlier this year.

Thompson said: "For a British broadcaster like Channel 4, British performance and production talent must come first. We are moving away from our recent focus on larger-budget, international projects and towards producing the kind of cutting-edge British films that have been part of Channel 4's cultural and creative success of the last 20 years."

The company said it will invest in films that involve new and established UK talent through third-party financing. It will also secure UK and international distribution through third parties on the majority of its films.

A new head of the film division will be hired to manage the budget. However, FilmFour's current chief executive Paul Webster has said he will not be running for the post.

Although FilmFour has enjoyed success with films such as 'The Crying Game' and 'East is East', the company has also been responsible for a number of turkeys.

Recent failures include 'Charlotte Gray', 'Lucky Break' and Mike Hodges' 'Croupier', which although a success in art houses in the US failed to draw an audience in the UK, even when it was re-released last year.

The FilmFour movie channel is unaffected by the decision.

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