PolyGram Filmed Entertainment and Working Title Films: The making of a Film Studio and its Production Label

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In the 1990s, the London-based production company, Working Title Films, become synonymous with a brand of globally oriented popular cinema which is identifiably British in content while also embracing many of the aesthetic and cultural forms of Hollywood filmmaking. Notable films include Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Bean (1997), The Borrowers (1997) and Notting Hill (1999). This paper examines the origins of this production strategy between 1988 and 1993. During these six years, Working Title was transformed from an independently owned and managed production company which largely produced Channel 4-funded ‘social art cinema’ to a subsidiary label of the nascent film studio, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment (PFE). Taking the approach of business history, I will explore PFE’s key innovations, particularly the development of the so-called ‘control sheet’, a creative and commercial filter used to inform green-light decisions. In so doing, a complex and dynamic picture of filmmaking within a newly formed studio system emerges. Significantly, control sheet-like business practices were also adopted by the major Hollywood studios. Thus, the logic of the control sheet continues to underpin the current media ecology of Hollywood at large, including that of Working Title’s current parent company, Universal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-583
Number of pages29
JournalHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
Issue number3
Early online date7 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Working Title Films, UK film industry, US film industry.

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