The latest official figures published today by the BFI’s Research and Statistics Unit show that in a year in which film and high-end TV production was impacted globally by the Hollywood strikes, the combined spend by film and high-end television production (HETV) during 2023 reached £4.23 billion, 32% down on 2022 but almost level with pre-pandemic levels.

The lion’s share of the total £4.23 billion production spend was contributed by HETV shows with £2.87 billion, or 68%; with feature film production contributing £1.36 billion, or 32% of the total spend.

Inward investment and co-production films and HETV shows combined, delivered £3.31 billion, 39% down on 2022.

Of the total £2.87 billion spend on 187 HETV productions in 2023, inward investment shows contributed £2.07 billion (72% of total HETV spend), a 43% decrease on 2022;  domestic UK shows accounted for £766 million (27% of total HETV spend), a 21% increase on 2022; and co-production spend was £38.9 million (1.4% of total spend), a 7% increase on 2022.

Of the total £1.36 billion spend on 207 film productions in 2023 inward investment films contributed £1.04 billion (77% of total film spend), a 40% decrease on 2022; domestic UK films accounted for £150.2 million (just over 11% of total film spend) a 13% decrease on 2022; and  co-production spend accounted for £162.8 million (just over 12% of total film spend), more than two and a half times spend in 2022.

Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive said: “The production and box office figures that we have published today reflect the different dynamics at play across our sector. Whilst a level of film and high-end television production in the UK was disrupted by strikes in 2024, our industry continues to contribute billions to the UK economy and support a huge range of jobs. At the same time, audiences showed up in record numbers for must-see movies including Barbie, Oppenheimer and Wonka all of which exemplify the talent and artistry of so many UK creatives.

“And despite notable recent successes such as The Great Escaper, Rye Lane, Scrapper, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Polite Society, we cannot ignore that the statistics also highlight concerns for lower budget UK films, increasingly challenged in securing finance and visibility. Our work and commitment in this area continues.”

Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive of the British Film Commission, said: ‘’Globally, the current environment for film and TV production has become challenging for a number of reasons and it will come as no surprise that as a result of industrial action in the US suspending production half way through the year, today’s figures are lower than those for 2022. However, despite this, we remain incredibly proud of the UK’s position as a leading global centre for film and TV production, post and visual effects, attracting international and domestic producers to make their content here. This is the result of our world-class crew base – in which we continue to invest, our generous tax credits – which have once again been enhanced, and our increased UK-wide stage space offer, coupled with our range of cutting-edge facilities and diverse locations.”

Film production detail 

The total number of films going into production in the UK in 2023 was 207 which is 13 fewer than reported for 2022. The total spend on film production in the UK in 2023 was £1.36 billion, 31% down from £1.97 billion in2022 (subsequently updated to £2.2 billion).  

The majority of spend in 2023 was contributed by inward investment films with £1.04 billion from 74 features, accounting for 77% of the total UK spend.  This is 40% lower than the UK spend of £1.74 billion (subsequently revised to £1.94 billion), an impact from Hollywood films impacted by the strikes. Film production starts that have rescheduled for 2024 include How To Train Your Dragon and Hedda.  Looking back, 2022 reflected a 37% surge in production activity and spend on 2021, as a result of accelerated production activity coming out of the pandemic. Inward investment films which contributed to the £1.04 billion spend included Beetlejuice 2, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, Heads of State. 

Of the 207 films starting production, 95 are domestic UK features (almost evenly split between higher and lower budget features) contributing £150.2 million in spend, a 13% decrease on the £173.6 million spend in 2022(subsequently updated to £201.3 million). Films which went into production included The Salt Path, Jackdaw and The Radleys. 

A further 37 UK-international co-productions generated a UK spend of £162.8 million, more than two and a half times more than the spend across 30 co-productions in 2022. As a result, 2023’s co-production spend is now the highest since 2013.  Co-productions included Paddington In Peru and We Live In Time.  

UK production spend in 2023 by non-US studio films (includes UK and non-studio inward investment independent productions) was £653.2 million.  This represents 48% of total UK film production spend, the highest since 2008.  Non-US studio inward investment films generated a spend of £340.2 million (£382.2 million in 2022); domestic non-studio films generated a spend of £150.2 million (£173.6 million in 2022); and non-US co-productions generated a spend of £162.8 million (£59.1 million in 2022).  

High-end television production detail 

In 2023, UK spend was £2.87 billion, a 33% decrease from £4.30 billion in 2022 (revised to £4.85 billion), the highest year on record.  However, the 2023 spend represents an 25% increase on 2019’s pre-pandemic spend £2.29 billion(revised to £2.47 billion). 

Of the 187 HETV productions that started principal photography in 2023, spend on inward investment shows accounted for 72% of the total with a spend of £2.07 billion, a 42% decrease on 2022’s £3.63 billion.  Domestic production spend of £766 million, accounting for 27% of total HETV spend and a 21% increase on £632.7 million in 2022.  Co-productions accounted for just over 1% of the total spend with £38.9 million (close to £36.5 million in 2022).  

The total spend across the 91 domestic UK productions represents the highest level of spend for this area of HETV production since the introduction of the tax relief in 2013. Domestic HETV productions included Call TheMidwife (series 13), Rebus, Trigger Point (series 2), Dope Girls, Waterloo Road (series 12), McDonald & Dodds (series 4) and After the Flood. 

This £2.07 billion spend in inward investment HETV shows spend is ahead of £1.96 billion in 2019 with 2021 and 2022 significantly higher (£4.0 billion and £4.2 billon respectively) as production in the UK accelerated out of the pandemic. Inward investment HETV productions made last year include House of the Dragon, A Thousand Blows and Doctor Who (series 15).   

The £38.9 million UK spend across 7 co-productions in 2023 is the highest level recorded, nudging ahead of £36.4 million 2022.   HETV co-productions included The Heist Before Christmas. 


Jon Creamer

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