Britain's box office booms but filming is set to slow

The UK Film Council is predicting another bumper year for production in 2010, despite a slowdown of features in the first half and cinema admissions hit by the World Cup.

The agency yesterday unveiled its Statistical Yearbook covering 2009, a record year for films in Britain. John Woodward, the chief executive of the UK Film Council, said: "In terms of sheer economic value, jobs and overall contribution to the economy, film has had a truly great year and is punching above its weight." He added: "This year could be even higher than last year, or at least match it."

The cinema tills kept ringing last year despite the recession, recording record receipts of £944m. Together with the takings in Ireland the industry breached the £1bn mark for the first time. Last year also marked the highest admissions since 2002, with 173.5 million visits to the cinema.

The record performance was driven by a strong slate of releases, dominated by Avatar. The hit film directed by James Cameron became the biggest-grossing of all time in the UK, bringing in £92m. It smashed the previous record set by Mamma Mia! of £69.2m in 2008.

The top three UK films, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Slumdog Millionaire and Sherlock Holmes, brought in a combined $1.5bn (£987m) globally. The country also had a 7 per cent share of the worldwide market.

The Film Council said the rise in takings was helped by the emergence of 3D films. From 0.8 per cent of views in 2008, 16 per cent of screenings were seen in 3D last year, with cinemas benefiting from the higher prices. Total UK production activity £613m in 2008 to £957m, with investment from abroad of £753m. The council said production had continued to perform strongly this year. Movies that started shooting in the first half include the second part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Martin Scorsese's Hugo Cabret, starring Jude Law.

Yet, the number of features with budgets of over £500,000 that started production between January and June fell to 51, from 60 in the first half of 2009. Mr Woodward shrugged off fears that the decline spelt trouble for the industry, saying a "chunky number" of projects were chalked in for the second half. He added: "Fewer films are being made, even with the studios. But they are compensating by the increased size of the ones that are being made."

While the amount spent on the new films fell from £726.4m in the first half of 2009 to £643m this year, the council said this still marked the second highest investment for the time period. It was mainly driven by inward investment, dominated by money from the US. The council said the UK's film tax break and the favourable exchange rate between sterling and dollar, as well as the local infrastructure, had helped drive the growth. Mr Woodward said that production, post-production, distribution and cinema "are firing on all cylinders", adding "it is clear British cinema has weathered the global recession well".

While Slumdog Millionaire grossed £31m, making it the biggest UK independent film of all time, it masked problems for independent productions. In the first half, spending on films with budgets of over £500,000 was down to £80m from £180m in 2003. Mr Woodward said the "worries are growing and they are becoming more pronounced". He warned that independent producers were finding it tough in the shift to digital with the "slow erosion of the DVD market, which has not been effectively replaced by revenues for online" adding the transition to digital would be "bumpy".

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas