Written by Shona Smith on Feb 4, 2021. Posted in General Interest

Film and HETV Production Spend in the UK Tops GBP2.84 billion in 2020

The British Film Institute's Official 2020 statistics provide a positive outlook for the industry. Despite a nearly six month pause in physical production, the total UK spend on High end TV and film is down just  21% on 2019. Nearly GBP1.19 out of the total GBP2.34 spend was recorded in the final quarter, signalling significant recovery and a resilience of the UK industry.

Jurassic World: Dominion was one of the first large productions to begin again

High-end TV production recorded GBP1.49 billion UK spend, only a 11% reduction on 2019. Film production was more affected, recording a 31% reduction in spend that translates to GBP1.37 billion total spend on feature film production in the UK. 76% of HETV and 91% of feature film spend came from inward productions and co-productions.

The difficult year for the screen industries as a result of Covid-19 followed a record breaking 2019, which had seen the largest spend on record and a 51% increase in HETV production spend.  2020 was headed in the same direction and record production spend for the first quarter. However by the end of March production was suspended with only animation and post-production and VFX able to continue.

The shutdown of physical production resumed from mid-July and the final quarter of the year that saw a strong resumption in production activity that generated the second highest quarterly result ever recorded. The £1.19 billion spend was 38% higher than the previous three months.

Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive, said today  "after an unbelievably tough year, today’s figures show an incredibly vibrant and positive picture for film and TV in the UK. Last spring it was hard to imagine that we would be generating £1 billion worth of production activity in the final quarter which has been achieved by industry and government pulling together and the determination of our workforce to get back up and running. This sector is primed to grow with expansion underway in studios and production hot spots across the UK, delivering more jobs and more to the economy”.

The road to recovery was supported by the BFI’s Screen Sector Task Force.  The coalition of professionals from every part of the film sector to drive forward a recovery programme to enable the industry to restart and recover and has been pivotal to getting film and TV production back up and running, generating jobs and contributing to the UK economy. which saw the Working Safely During COVID-19 in Film and High-end TV Drama Production’ guidance, in liaison with Government and industry. The guidance was published at the start of June 2020, allowing much of the paused production to restart, and new projects to begin filming. A quarantine exemption for essential cast a crew, although currently suspended, came into effect for film and HETV in early July. The Government’s Film and TV Restart Scheme to support production companies struggling with getting insurance against COVID-related losses.

Inward investment and co-production films and HETV shows have delivered 76% of the production spend underlining the UK’s global reputation as the world-leading centre for film and TV production, and inward and co-produced feature films made up 91% of the total feature film spend.

War of the Worlds season two, The Pursuit of Love and The Witcher season Two were some of the incoming HETV productions that contributed a GBP1.123 billion inward investment spend from High-end TV. GBP1.213 billion UK spend derived from inward investment feature films such as Jurassic World: Dominion, Mission: Impossible 7 and The Batman. 

Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive of the British Film Commission, said: “As today’s figures show, production recovery in the UK is well underway and demand for content is not only still there, but in fact greater than ever before. Our sector, like many, has faced unprecedented challenges, but thanks to the sheer talent of our workforce and the creative and technological innovation of our companies and infrastructure, we were swift in developing ways of continuing to produce outstanding content. Film and high-end TV have an important role to play in the UK’s economy, providing UK plc with billions of pounds into the nations and regions and supporting hundreds and thousands of jobs.”

Even allowing for the pandemic, production spend on HETV is the second highest on record and production took place in every nation and region.  Becoming Elizabeth in the South-west, The Girlfriend Experience – series 3 and Andor in the South-east, Pennyworth– series 2 in the East of England, Sharon Maguire Godmothered, and Hanna – series 3.

Domestic HETV only saw a 4% drop in spend to GBP352 million and included Call The Midwife  – series 10 in the North East,  Line of Duty series 6 and Bloodlands in Northern Ireland, The Pact, The Pembrokeshire Murders and  Roald and Beatrix – The Tail of the Curious Mouse in Wales.

91% of feature film spend was generated by inward investment projects. Matt Reeves' The Batman filmed at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesdon, London, the East, North-west and Scotland,  Cinderella based at Pinewood Studios, David Yates' Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3, Colin Trevorrow's Jurassic World: Dominion, Christopher McQuarrie's  Mission: Impossible 7, and Robert Eggers' The Northman based at Belfast Harbour Studios.

Domestic feature films generated a spend of GBP119.5 million, a 43% decrease on 2019. Those that did go into production include Kenneth Branagh's Belfast in London, Northern Ireland and the South-East, Terence Davies' Benediction, Roger Michell's The Duke in London and Yorkshire,  Eva Hudson's Mothering Sunday in the South-east and Reggie Yates' Pirates and Aml Ameen's Boxing Day in London.

The UK provides a 25% feature film and HETV. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each investment programmes.

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