Figures published today by the BFI’s Research and Statistics Unit reveal the highest spend ever on film and high-end television production in the UK in 2019.

The spend on high-end television and film production in the UK in 2019 reached £3.62 billion, a 16% increase on 2018. This is the highest year on record. Inward investment across film and high television topped £3 billion for the first time.

Film production in 2019
The year saw 188 feature films go into production with an interim total spend of £1.951 billion, a 6% increase on the previous year and the second highest recorded level of production spend.  Consolidated volume and spend figures for 2019 will be published later this year as production reporting is updated. 
Of the 188 films which went into production in 2019, 94 were domestic UK films with a total interim spend of £174.7 million, representing a 46% decrease in the number of films and 45% decrease in spend from £318.7 million last year.  Independently produced domestic titles in 2019 included Francis Lee’s Ammonite, Euros Lyn’s Dream Horse, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir 2, Kevin Macdonald’s Prisoner 760, Clio Barnard’s Ali & Ava, Barnaby Thompson’s Pixie, Andrew ‘Rapman’ Onwubolu’s Blue Story, Josie Rourke’s This Nan’s Life, Aleem Khan’s After Love, Philippe Martinez’s Shooting Paul, Peter Jackson’s Jamboree Jam, Gillies MacKinnon’s The Last Bus, Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s Chasing Chaplin, Aneil Karia’s Surge, Charles Martin Smith’s A Gift From Bob, Edgar Wright’s Last Night In Soho and Autumn de Wilde’s Emma.
2019 saw £1.747 billion being spent by 71 major inward investment films on production in the UK, supported by the British Film Commission, a significant uplift of 17% on the previous year’s spend, and accounting for 89% of the total spend on film production in the UK over the year.  21 studio-backed films accounted for 71% of the total spend on all production.
Inward investment films made in the UK during 2018 include Sam Mendes’s 1917, Cary Joji Fukanaga’s No Time To Die, Cate Shortland’s Black Widow, Antoine Fuqua’s Infinite,  Craig Gillespie’s Cruella, Andy Serkis’s Venom 2, George Clooney’s Good Morning, Midnight, Tim Story’s Tom and Jerry, Daniel Espinosa’s Mobius, Robert Zemeckis’s  The Witches, Chloe Zhao’s The Eternals, Guy Ritchie’s Cash Truck, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile, Will Sharpe’s Louis Wain, Danis Tanovic’s The Postcard Killings, Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman; The Great Game, John Madden’s Operation Mincemeat and Tanya Wexler’s  Jolt.
The inward investment data also reveals a notable influx of 29 Indian productions being made in the UK with a collective spend of £103.3 million including Mysskin’s Thupparivaalan 2, Amarjit Singh’s Jhalle, Sharan Art’s Galwakdi and Amrit Raj Chadha’s Parauhneya Nu Dafa Karo.
There were 23 UK co-productions going into production in 2018 with spend of £34.2 million compared to the interim spend in 2018 of £25.0 million. Co-productions included Phyllida Lloyd’s Herself, Viggo Mortensen’s Falling, Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, Uberto Pasolini’s Nowhere Special, Ben Lewin’s Falling For Figaro, James D’Arcy’s Made In Italy, Florian Zeller’s The Father, Liam O’Donnell’s Skylines and Lina Roessler’s Best Sellers.
High-end TV production in 2019
2019 has seen a significant boost in high-end television productions made in the UK with an interim spend of £1.665 billion across 123 productions; an increase of 29% on 2018’s consolidated spend of £1.287 billion and also the highest level of spend since the introduction of tax relief.
Of the 123 high-end TV titles, 49 were domestic UK productions with spend of £371.1 million, a 14% increase from the consolidated spend of £433.3 million in 2017.  Domestic UK high-end TV titles include Aisling Walsh’s Elizabeth is Missing, Christine Gernon’s Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special, Richard Laxton’s Honour, Juliet May’s Motherland (series 2), Mackenzie Crook’s Worzel Gummidge, Emma Fraser’s Eden, Stella Corradi’s Sitting In Limbo, Chloe Thomas’s The Deceived, Robbie McKillop’s Guilt, Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy,  Lynsey Miller’s Deadwater Fell, Rebecca Gatward and Mary Nighy’s Traces, Andy de Emmony’s The Nest, Penny Woolcock’s Ackley Bridge (series 3),  Claire McCarthy Domina, John Strickland’s Line of Duty (series 5), Hans Herbots’ Cobra, Farren Blackburn’s A Discovery of Witches and Kieron Hawkes’s Intergalactic.
The 74 inward investment and co-production high-end TV productions crashed through the £1 billion marker with an interim spend of £1.293 billion, a record spend and an increase of 51% on 2018.  High-end international TV productions made in the UK last year include Jon East’s Cursed, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Old Guard, The Crown (series 4), Lenny Abrahamson’s Normal People, Andrew Haigh’s The North Water, Armando Iannucci’s Avenue 5, Tom Hooper’s His Dark Materials (series 2),Terry McDonagh’s Killing Eve (series3),  Outlander (series 5), Nick Murphy’s A Christmas Carol, Ben Wheatley’s Rebecca, Lena Dunham’s Industry, Michaela Coel’s Jan 22nd, Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s Black Narcissus, Owen Harris’s Brave New World, Julie Ann Robinson’s Bridgetron, Joss Whedon’s The Nevers, David Dobkin’s Eurovision, The Spanish Princess (season 2) and Lucy Forbes and Destiny Ekaragha’s The End of the F***ing World (series 2)
Animation television programme production in 2019
At the time of reporting, 23 animation television programmes went into production in the UK in 2019, with a spend of £39.3 million. Of these, 16 were domestic UK productions and 7 were inward investment or co-productions. However, there is a significant time-lag with animation data with fuller reporting later this year.
Animation programmes that went into production in 2018 include Pinkalicious & Pteriffic (series 2), Bear Grylls Young Adventures, Alva and the Trolls, Love Monster and Dog Loves Books.
The UK spend and number of productions data reported are treated as interim results and are consolidated later in the year as final reporting is received.
Box office in 2019
The total box office for all films released was £1.254 billion, just 2% down on last year. Leading the box office was Avengers: Endgame, which took over £88.7 million, followed by The Lion King (£76.0 million), Toy Story 4 (£66.2 million), Joker (£58.0 million) and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (£54.9 million).    Ten of the year’s top 20 performing films at the UK box office were UK/USA productions being made in the UK (including Last Christmas which was developed with BFI National Lottery funding) using the UK’s facilities, talent, crew and locations, again demonstrating the strength of the UK as a global production hub, making films that export worldwide.
The top grossing UK qualifying independent films were Downton Abbey, The Favourite, Yesterday, Stan & Ollie and Mary Queen of Scots. The top 20 reflects the diversity of theme and story explored in independent filmmaking including strong and influential women (The Favourite, Mary Queen of Scots, Colette); animation (Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon); contemporary life/coming of age (Blue Story, Fighting With My Family, Blinded By The Light); musical drama (Judy, Yesterday, Fisherman’s Friends, Wild Rose); political/espionage (Red Joan, Official Secrets); action adventure (Angel Has Fallen, The Kid Who Would Be King); and young audiences (Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans).  Two films – Stan & Ollie and Wild Rose – were produced by Fable Pictures and both played at the BFI London Film Festival.
The market share of independent UK films at the box office in 2019 was 13%, an increase from 11.7% in 2018.  When UK-made, studio-backed films are added to the picture, eg Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Aladdin, Dumbo and Rocketman, the full UK market share increases to 46%, the highest since records began.

Jon Creamer

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