Paddington and The Inbetweeners bring record audiences for independent British cinema

The two films alone took a combined £67.5m

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The Independent Culture

Paddington helped British independent film bring in record audiences last year in what proved a bumper year at the box office.

UK independent films grossed £167m in 2014, according to figures released by the BFI today, driven by the success of Paddington and gross-out sequel The Inbetweeners 2.

The two films alone took a combined £67.5m, more than triple the biggest UK independent hits from 2013: Philomena and Rush.

This year’s success, which also included films Mr Turner and Belle, marked 15.5 per cent of the total cinema-going audiences up from just 6.6 per cent the previous year.

It even surpassed 2011, when The King’s Speech helped boost box office takings of independent UK films to £151m and a 13.3 per cent share.

Box office takings crossed the £1bn barrier for the fourth year in a row, although fell on 2013 by two per cent. The biggest film of the year was The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which took £40.3m followed by The Lego Movie, grossing £34.3m.

The BFI blamed the World Cup and other sporting events for cinema admissions dropping as much as a fifth in May and June.

Last year was the biggest for film production in the UK, with companies pumping in £1.5bn, up a third on a year earlier. It marked the highest amount since the statistics were first recorded two decades ago.

Major US productions based in the UK last year included the hotly anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, Mission: Impossible 5 and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Domestic films include Shaun the Sheep, Testament of Youth and Dad’s Army.

The UK has become one of the most attractive destinations for production companies looking to take advantage of the tax relief for film, high-end television, animation and video games.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said the “huge amount of inward investment we are seeing is a sure fire sign that the UK is the best place in the world to make films”.

The BFI said the inward investment was set to continue with a standalone, and as yet untitled, Star Wars film to be shot as well as Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.