Leading article: British blockbuster

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The Independent Online

If you have school-age children you may well be familiar with Alex Rider, teenage spy, already. But this week, young Mr Rider looks set to become almost as widely known as that other fictional teenage prodigy, Harry Potter. Tonight sees the premiere in London of Stormbreaker, the film adaptation of the first in the series of the Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz. General release follows on Friday.

If the film is anything like as successful as the books have been, expect to hear a lot more about Alex Rider and his adventures in the coming months. And the signs are that it will be very successful indeed. Stormbreaker is already one of the biggest independent British productions in decades. And the film has been sold to almost every country in the world.

What is more, unlike other ostensibly "British" films such as Harry Potter and Love Actually - which were the creatures of big Hollywood studios - Stormbreaker had no major US investment. And it was filmed entirely on location in London, the Isle of Man and Pinewood Studios. When one Hollywood studio came calling, asking if Alex could be made into an American, rather than a Brit, they were politely shown the door by the producers.

So, if all goes to plan, Britain could be about to witness its first major, international, blockbuster in quite some time. Even more encouragingly, this is merely the first of six books, making it a potential franchise. This is just what the British Film Industry needs to consolidate its revival and put some high profile recent flops behind it. Let's hope Sex Lives of the Potato Men will soon be a distant, albeit painful, memory.

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