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Film, TV drama and animation production surges in UK

Film, TV drama and animation production surges in UK
News
Tim Dams
03 February 2015

A record £1.471bn was spent on film production in the UK in 2014, according to the latest figures from the BFI’s Research and Statistics Unit.

The £1.471bn spend represents a 35% increase on 2013 and the highest recorded figure since the measurement began in 1994.

The total is underpinnned by 36 international film shoots which between them represent £1.233bn, 85% of the £1.471bn production spend.

Inward investent films have flocked to the UK in recent years, attracted by the UK film tax relief, highly regarded creative expertise and world class production facilities.

In 2014 these included Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens for LucasFilm, Mission: Impossible 5 for Paramount, Avengers: Age of Ultron for Marvel Studios, Grimsby for Sony, In the Heart of the Sea and Tarzan for Warner Bros, as well as Alice In Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass for Disney, Pan for Warner Bros, and the new James Bond Spectre.

The BFI’s annual statistics also reveal the first full year of the impact of the new tax reliefs for high-end TV drama and animation programmes, which became available in April 2013.
 
A total of 87 high-end programmes, including Downton Abbey, Wolf Hall, the forthcoming 24: Live Another Day, Poldark, Cilla, Foyle’s War and Granchester generated £615 million in production spend, of which £287m is inward investment.

With shows already confirmed for this year – including Fox 21, Imagine and FX drama pilot, The Bastard Executioner, which will shoot in Wales from March – 2015 also looks set to be busy.
 
Meanwhile, 22 animation programmes went into production with a UK production spend of £36.8m and, of these, 16 were domestic productions spending £32m. Programmes include Sarah and Duck - Series 2; Mr Bean: The Animated Series; Toot the Tiny Tugboat; and One Night in Hell.
 
Spend on making domestic UK films was dwarfed by the big US inward investment projects, but also increased with £188m on films budgeted at £0.5m and above, 36% up on 2013. This spend was spread across a total of 74 films which went into production in 2014, compared to 65 in 2013.
 
UK domestic films made in 2014 included Suffragette (director Sarah Gavron); High Rise (director Ben Wheatley); Shaun The Sheep (directors Mark Burton, Richard Starzack); Testament of Youth (director James Kent); London Road (director Rufus Norris); Kill Your Friends (director Owen Harris); Hockney: A Life in Pictures (director Randall Wright);  Kajaki (director Paul Katis); Miss You Already (director Catherine Hardwicke); Bolshoi Babylon (director Nick Read); and 45 Years (director Andrew Haigh) which is premiering in competition at the Berlin Film Festival this week.
 
Co-productions made in the UK last year totalled £37.4 million in production spend and include Sunset Song (director Terence Davies); Brooklyn (director John Crowley);  Autobahn (director Eran Creevy); Queen of the Desert (director Werner Herzog); The Lobster (director Yorgos Lanthimos); as well films from talent making their feature film debuts,  Departure (director Andrew Steggall) and Tiger House (director Thomas Daley). The number of co-productions was 32, down from 53 in 2013.
 
The data on films budgeted at less than £0.5m is usually revised upwards during the course of the next six months.  At this point investment in these micro and low budget films was £12.4m in 2014 compared to £17.7m in the previous year.  These films are vitally important as the talent incubator for the UK’s next generation of successful filmmakers.

For film, the momentum for big budget inward investment productions looks set to continue in 2015 with the new Untitled Standalone Star Wars project for LucasFilm and the first of JK Rowling trilogy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for Warner Bros, and the new Game of Thrones Season 5 for HBO going into production this year.

To meet the demand of incoming production, significant investment is being made in increasing studio capacity across the UK. 169,000 sq ft was recently added to Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden with an additional 70,000 sq ft now on line at Pinewood Wales. Plans for further development at Belfast’s Titanic Studios are in the works and Pinewood’s flagship Studio plans to double in size, with the first new stages available from 2016.

Meanwhile, 2014 marked the fourth consecutive year that the overall UK box office crossed the £1bn barrier, though total takings were down 2% on the previous year. 

Admissions continue to reflect the plateau trend which has typified the UK cinema business over the past decade, with 157.5m tickets sold, a 5% dip on 2013.
 
However, for the first time ever, the market share of UK independent films reached almost 16%, up from 6% in 2013.

This was led by BAFTA-nominated Paddington which took £34.7m in 2014, followed by The Inbetweeners 2 which took £33.39 million. Together, these two films took a total of £67.5m, over three times more than the £21.2 million grossed by the top two independent films in 2013 (Philomena and Rush). Across the top independent earners, seven films took £5 million or more in 2014, compared with five in 2013. Overall, independent UK films and inward investment British qualifying films had a market share of almost 26% of the UK box office, up from 21% in 2013.
 
The top 20 films in 2014 features a variety of big budget US studio productions, co-productions and UK films in the top four highest grossing films. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was the highest grossing film of 2014 with takings of £40.3 million, followed by The Lego Movie grossing £34.3m, then UK independent productions Paddington and The Inbetweeners 2.
 
The end of 2014 saw a boom at the box office with December the busiest month of the year with 17.12m admissions. Leading the charge was The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Paddington, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, Interstellar and The Imitation Game.
 
A summer of sport saw admissions May and June down most significantly by 20%.  January admissions were down by 11%, affected by an extraordinarily high admission figure for 2013 with the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Life of Pi and Les Misérables.
 
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The UK film industry is a powerhouse for growth and I'm delighted that 2014 saw an all time high spend on film production."
 
Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI, said: “Today’s report illuminates a dynamic and vibrant story of success for the screen industries in the UK. It’s a sector alive with opportunity and energy, where creativity and fiscal policy is working hand in hand to make the UK the most exciting place on the planet to do business.”

Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of the British Film Commission and Film London said: “Recent Award nominations and wins have proved 2014 was a fantastic year for UK film and talent, and these statistics show what an incredible year it was for our industry. The significant number of ambitious, large-scale productions choosing our skills, our facilities and our locations is vital for the UK economy.
 




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