Written by Shona Smith on Jan 30, 2020. Posted in General Interest

UK high end TV and film production spend reaches record 3.6 billion

The official figures from the BFI’s Research and Statistics Unit reveal that 2019 saw the highest spend ever on film and high-end television production in the UK. The record-breaking year for the UK production industry saw spend for film and high-end TV production in the UK reach 3.6 billion, a 16% increase on 2018.

International investment in film and high-end television generated a 30% uplift for the UK economy according to the statistics. Inward investment spend on High-end TV production increased by 51% on the previous year, reaching 1.3 billion, the highest since records began. Feature film production generated 1.75 billion inward investment spend, an increase of 17%.

A number of countries contribute to the totals, but a notable influx of twenty-nine Indian productions collectively spent of GBP112 million in 2019.

The figures highlight the ongoing strength of the UK’s screen industries and its global reputation as a centre for production. Inward investment spend from major international productions topped GBP3.04 billion and three of 2019’s top grossing films at the UK box office were made in the UK; Avengers: Endgame, The Lion King (pictured) and Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker.

Regions and nations are cashing in on the boom, with productions spanning the whole country. Morbius shot at Pinewood studios and on location in Manchester, Brave New World was based at Dragon Studios in Wales, Season two of The Spanish Princess filmed at Bristol’s Bottleyard Studios and All Creatures Great and Small filmed in Yorkshire.

Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive of the British Film Commission and Film London, said: “Film and high-end TV are big business, indeed we are the fastest growing sector in the economy, and today’s record breaking figures show the UK continuing to meet the growing demand for content, studio space and world-class skills, talent and technical expertise. Last year saw industry heavyweights such as Netflix, Disney and Comcast strengthening their commitment to the UK, providing further endorsement of the UK’s world-class infrastructure, talent and generous, reliable tax reliefs. As today’s figures demonstrate, the UK film and TV industry is very much open for business and we’re excited to continue working with our US and EU partners to create award-winning content. It’s vital we continue to nurture and champion the exceptional talent across our screen industries, the BFC working together with our public and private partners across the UK to seize the growth opportunities for nations and regions, putting inclusivity and sustainability at the heart of everything we do.”

In contrast, domestic film and high-end television production spend decreased in 2019. Overall production spend of GBP546.4 million is a decrease of 28% on the previous year. Within this figure, domestic film spending decreased by 45%. The BFI note that this demonstrates a “shifting industry eco-system for domestic production” and add that home-grown films, such as 1917 (pictured below) and Venom 2 are attracting international finance and therefore classified as inward investment.

Amanda Nevill CBE, CEO of the BFI said while the figures "show an incredibly vibrant picture, a sector that continues to grow, delivering billions to the economy and a wide spectrum of jobs all over the UK…It also underlines the importance of ensuring that the independent sector, the lifeblood for this growing success, is properly supported”.

More positive statistics for the sector from the research show that UK independent productions delivered their highest market share at the box office in five years at 13%, with Downton Abbey, The Favourite, Yesterday and Stan and Ollie leading the way.

2020 has already got off to a strong year with several major features in pre-production in the UK including Jurassic World 3 based at Pinewood Studios and The Northman based at Belfast Harbour Studios and TV dramas including Outlander Season 6 based at Scotland’s Wardpark Studios. The Witcher Season 2 and Pennyworth are both based at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden.

Many productions make use of the 25% tax credit that cover production and post production for both TV series and documentaries, feature and documentary features and post production. The incentives have been in place since 2013.

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