Hollywood money pours back into the UK film industry but investment remains low

  • @MrNickClark

Blockbuster Hollywood film productions poured money into the UK bouncing back from a lean 2012 according to official statistics published yesterday, yet investment in UK film showed a worrying decline.

The BFI published independent figures showed film had made a “significant” impact on the UK economy, according to the organisation’s chiefs.

Investment in UK film production rose 14 per cent to once more cross the £1bn barrier, although it did not return to the heights of 2011’s £1.3bn.

Much of the investment came from major international films, with studios attracted by UK’s tax breaks for the industry.

Amanda Nevill, chief executive of the BFI, said the UK remained “one of the most attractive and competitive places in the world to do business”.

A total of £870m came from 37 “major” international films making the UK their production base. That was up almost 40 per cent from the previous year.

The films include The Man From U.N.C.L.E. starring Henry Cavill, last seen flying faster than a speeding bullet in Man of Steel; the new film from the Wachowskis, Jupiter Ascending, and Muppets Most Wanted.

The BFI pointed out that the momentum for major international films coming to shoot in the UK continues into 2014 with the new Star Wars, The Avengers: Age of Ultron and the 24 movie going into production this year. 

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, hailed the “valuable cultural and economic contribution” of the creative industries.

“I want to build on this success and showcase the world class talent this country has, encouraging more films and TV programmes to be made here,” he added.

British films that went into production included the much anticipated Mr Turner, written and directed by Mike Leigh, the adaptation of acclaimed play Posh, and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.

Yet domestic film production suffered, with spending on UK projects tumbling from £229m in 2012 to £139m last year. The number of features produced in the UK fell to the lowest level in at least five years down from 325 in 2012 to 239.

The figures showed the tax breaks introduced in the spring for high-end television and animation programmes had already made an impact, delivering £276m of spending on productions including on shows such as Game of Thrones and Da Vinci’s Demons.

The figures also revealed that cinemas had made more than £1bn at the box office for the third year in a row, although figures fell one per cent. Tickets sold were down four per cent year-on-year to 165.5 million.

Despicable Me 2 was the highest grossing film of 2013, taking £47.5m, followed by The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

The UK had a fifth of the box office share, led by Les Miserables, which grossed £41m. Philomena was the domestic independent film to gross the most at almost £11m.

Yet, the market share of UK independent films fell from 13 per cent in 2011 to just 6 per cent last year.