Sky Movies is being renamed Sky Cinema. The rebrand will take effect from July 8th, which is the same day that the James Bond film 'Spectre' will premiere on the service.
As well as having a new name, the Sky service will employ new technology and new features.
For starters, a new premiere will air every single day. At the moment, Sky Movies shows four premieres a week, so this will be an increase of 75 per cent in new films. Sky will also up the number of films available on demand to 1,200, which is about a 20 per cent increase on the number currently available.
There will be a new world cinema strand, showcasing 26 films from 15 different countries. (Between them, the 26 films have won 136 awards.)
And Sky will bring more pop-up channels to coincide with big premieres or celebrate film franchises, genres, or film stars. Upcoming pop-up channels will include Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek, Tom Hanks, Superheroes (which will appear two to three times a year), Disney-Pixar and Fairytales.
Each of these will be preceded by 'Sky Cinema'. So look out for Sky Cinema Star Trek, for instance.
Sky claims it's improved the quality of its HD picture output. It says it will use an "internal master format" that offers a third more pixels and four times the colour shade of its standard high definition picture.
Customers won't have to pay any extra for HD films from July, as long as they take the service through Sky or Virgin Media. (Though they will still have to pay extra for other HD channels from Sky.)
For "selected movies on demand", the sound will be closer to what you'd experience in a cinema, thanks to Sky using the sound track straight from the studios. This will result in louder bangs and quieter whispers, with no need to constantly increase and decrease the volume to hear what's going on.
New features will make it quicker and easier to find films. These include recommendations, a watch list, and the fact that every film will have a trailer. The Restart function will also take pride of place – this lets you start watching a film from the beginning by just pressing the green button, even if you switch on halfway through.
The name change brings Sky Movies in line with Sky's cinematic offerings in Italy and Germany, where the channels will also be renamed.
Sky also confirmed 4K films will be "coming soon" to Sky Q. It will make an announcement regarding this before the end of the year.
Facing the competition
Sky is making the changes in response to the rise of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. At the announcement in London this morning, Ian Lewis, director of Sky Cinema, Europe, admitted that "The market has become very different in the last few years."
About a third of Sky Movies customers also have Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, he said, but claimed these services were "not a threat" to Sky.
"We offer something very different," he added.
Gary Davey, managing director, content, Sky, said Sky's 27-year history, and the deep relationships it has fostered with the big studios, was one major point of difference between it and rival services.
He pointed to the fact that big studios let Sky use their core intellectual property for promotions and cross-marketing purposes – for example the recent 'Deadpool' adverts for Sky Store – as one example of this.
Lewis reiterated that Sky was the "market leader", with 45 of the top 50 films at the UK Box Office in 2015 being exclusive to Sky Movies for a time before being available on other services.
These include 'Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation' (July 8th), 'Steve Jobs' (September 18th), 'Bridge of Spies' (September 30th) and 'The Danish Girl' (October 23rd). Before Christmas, viewers can look forward to 'The Jungle Book', 'Zootopia' and 'Captain America: Civil War'.
"With Sky Cinema we are giving customers an even closer to the cinema experience with enhanced picture and sound quality," Lewis said in a statement. "However, we know the heart of the service is great movies. Customers want a breadth of the latest quality films to enjoy with the flexibility to watch whenever they want and on whatever device they choose.
"Sky Cinema builds on this commitment with even more premieres and instant access to an unrivalled library of the latest blockbusters and classic films. A better service needs a new name and Sky Cinema is about delivering the ultimate offering for movie fans everywhere."