The BFI has released UK Film and High-End TV (HETV) inward investment figures today showing spend from major international productions in 2021 topping record levels, at £4.713 billion. This is an increase of 86% on 2020’s figure.

The combined spend by both domestic and inward investment film and high-end television production (HETV) during 2021 reached £5.64 billion, the highest ever reported and £1.27 billion higher than for the pre-pandemic year 2019.

The figures, released by the BFI’s Research and Statistics Unit, show inward investment spend on HETV and HETV co-production reached £3.438 billion in 2021 – a 180% increase on last year’s figures.

Inward investment film spend of £1,275.5 billion is nearly 4% down on 2020 (3.7%); however, a number of films started production in 2020 and, due to the impacts of the pandemic, carried on further into 2021 – however, their spend is accounted for in the previous year’s (2020) statistics.

The number of films going into production in the UK in 2021 was 209 films, which is 75 more than reported for 2020, a year which was significantly disrupted by the arrival of the pandemic. The total spend on film production in the UK in 2021 was £1.55 billion, a 13% increase on 2020’s reported £1.36 billion spend.

The 2021 production statistics also reveal the increasing investment made by streamer platforms in single long-form productions. In 2021, there were 36 single domestic UK and inward investment productions, which contributed £737 million to the HETV spend of £4.09bn. These productions include Pinocchio (Disney+) – Cardington Studios, Matilda: The Musical – (Netflix/Working Title) – SE England, Persuasion (Netflix/MRC), Lady Chatterley’s Lover (Sony/Blueprint Pictures).

HETV production in the UK delivered a new record spend of £4.09 billion in 2021 from 211 productions.  It is 155% higher than 2020 and 85% higher than the pre-pandemic record of £2.21 billion generated in 2019.  Inward investment and co-production – 55% of all HETV shows – are driving this growth, accounting for £3.44 billion or for 84% of the total spend.

Domestic HETV productions – 45% of all HETV shows – generated a record spend with £648 million across 94 shows, representing 16% of the total spend and a 32% increase on the £491 million spend in 2019.

Productions carrying out VFX and post-production in the UK during 2021 included House of Gucci (MGM/Scott Free); The Matrix Resurrections (Warner Bros.); Moon Knight (Disney/Marvel); and The Princess (20th Century Studios).

Many of the titles, including The Peripheral (Amazon Studios), House of the Dragon (HBO), Bridgerton Season 2 (Netflix), Indiana Jones 5 (Disney/Lucasfilm), Secret Invasion (Disney/Marvel Studios) and Batgirl (Warner Bros./DC) received bespoke production support from the British Film Commission (BFC). The BFC has provided support to projects and companies accounting for 94% of the total inward investment HETV spend, and 90% of inward investment feature film spend in the UK in 2021.

Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive of the British Film Commission, said: “The demand for content has never been greater. As today’s figures show, the UK is enjoying a once-in-a-generation growth in production. The benefits are being felt right across our nations and regions, with large-scale investment in infrastructure and revenue into UK plc that will directly benefit local communities. Existing production hubs are growing to accommodate the demand, and new hubs are developing throughout the UK, bringing with them thousands of new jobs. The BFC is proud to have provided support to projects and companies accounting for 92% of the total inward investment high-end TV and feature film spend in the UK in 2021. We and our partners are determined to harness this phenomenal demand and support an ever-widening workforce to produce world-class content for global audiences.”

Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive, said: “The record-breaking level of film and TV production in the UK revealed today is good news for our industry and the UK economy and demonstrates the speed of the sector’s recovery. The groundwork for further growth is underway with expansion of studio spaces and production hot spots across our nations and regions, and working with industry to build up the skilled workforce that we need to meet demand and stay on top of our game. Government support for production with the screen sector tax reliefs and the Film & TV Production Restart Scheme have played an important part in the industry’s growth and recovery.

“The Culture Recovery Fund has been a lifeline for independent cinemas and it’s great to see audiences returning to the big screen with Bond and Spiderman leading the way with phenomenal success and independent UK films, such as Spencer, offering such a range of different cinematic stories.”

Jon Creamer

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