Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is a television game show which offers large cash prizes for correctly answering a series of multiple-choice questions of increasing difficulty. The format is owned and licensed by Sony Pictures Television. The maximum cash prize (in the original British version) is one million pounds. Most international versions offer a top prize of one million units of the local currency; the actual value of the prize of course varies widely, depending on the value of the currency.
The programme originated in the United Kingdom in 1998, with an original working title of Cash Mountain; it is hosted by Chris Tarrant. It was a surprising twist on the game show genre. Only one contestant plays at a time (similar to some radio quizzes) and the emphasis is on suspense rather than speed. In most versions there are no time limits to answer the questions, and contestants are given the question before they must decide whether to attempt an answer.
In 2000 a board game based on the hit television series of the same name was released by Pressman Toy Corp. In March 2006, original producer Celador announced that it was seeking to sell the worldwide rights to the show, together with the UK programme library, as the first phase of a sell-off of the company's format and production divisions. Dutch company 2waytraffic acquired Millionaire and the rest of Celador's programme library. Two years later, Sony Pictures Entertainment purchased 2waytraffic for £137.5m. The Who Wants to Be a Millionaire franchise is the most internationally popular television franchise of all time, having aired in more than 100 countries worldwide.
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