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Cameron: We need more mainstream films


David Cameron urged the British film industry to concentrate on making more mainstream movies today.

The Prime Minister signalled he wanted producers to get more help to generate “commercially successful” independent pictures that are not bankrolled by Hollywood.

The comments came ahead of a visit to the famous Pinewood studios in Buckinghamshire - set of numerous James Bond films - and with Lord Smith's review of Government policy due to be published next week.

The Labour former culture secretary is expected to recommend rebalancing Lottery funding in favour of independent pictures with mainstream potential, and the development of an export strategy for UK film expertise.

Last year's Oscar winner The King's Speech has earned around £250 million at the box office worldwide, making it the UK's highest grossing independent film of all time. The movie's budget is said to have been just £9 million.

Mr Cameron hailed the British film industry, saying it made a £4 billion annual contribution to the economy and an “incalculable contribution to our culture”.

“But in this year when we set out bold ambitions for the future, when the eyes of the world will be on us, I think we should aim even higher, building on the incredible success of recent years,” he said.

“Our role, and that of the British Film Institute (BFI), should be to support the sector in becoming even more dynamic and entrepreneurial, helping UK producers to make commercially successful pictures that rival the quality and impact of the best international productions.

“Just as the British Film Commission has played a crucial role in attracting the biggest and best international studios to produce their films here, so we must incentivise UK producers to chase new markets both here and overseas.”

The premier is due to hold talks with small and medium sized businesses during his visit to Pinewood later.

The studios have been operating for more than 70 years, hosting Bond films including The Spy Who Loved Me, View to a Kill and, more recently, Quantum of Solace.

They were also used for blockbusters Mamma Mia! and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

Film director Ken Loach told BBC Breakfast: “If everybody knew what would be successful before it was made, there would be no problem.

“What you have to do is fund a lot of different, varied projects and then some will be successful, some will be original, some will be creative, and you will get a very vibrant industry.”

He said there were issues “that this review signally will fail to challenge - one is the monopoly of the multiplexes where you get a very narrow range of films”.

“We do not have, as in other countries in Europe, a wide spread of independent cinemas. Now, unless you can really see a wide variety of films you don't have a vibrant film industry and we get a very narrow menu.”

He added: “If you went to an art gallery and you just saw ducks flying into the sunset, you would think that it was a rather limited art gallery - you would want a wide variety of ... paintings.

“We don't get that, and that is the opportunity I fear this review will miss.”