Written by Joe Jackson on Feb 7, 2022. Posted in General Interest

BFI reports GBP5.64 billion record spend on UK film and high-end television for 2021

The combined spend by film and high-end television production has reached record levels. According to the BFI, the industry contributed GBP5.64 billion to the national economy during 2021. This total spend is the highest ever reported, reaching GBP1.27 billion more than the pre-pandemic year 2019. April to June was the largest three-month period on record, totalling GBP2.29 million.


“The demand for content has never been greater,” elaborates Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive of the British Film Commission (BFC). “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 94% of the total inward investment high-end TV spend, and 90% of inward investment 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.”



“The groundwork for further growth is underway with expansion of studio spaces and production hot spots across our nations and regions,” says BFI Chief Executive Ben Roberts, “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.”


Inward investment and co-production films and high-end television programmes accounted for 84% of the overall spend, delivering GBP4.77 billion and in turn underlining the UK’s global reputation as a world-leading centre for media production. High-end programmes constituted 72% of the combined spend, reaching GBP3.44 billion, whereas feature films contributed GBP1.33 billion, or 28% of the spend.


The BFI’s statistics 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 GBP737 million to the high-end television spend of GBP4.09 billion. These productions include Pinocchio, Matilda: The Musical, Persuasion and Lady Chatterley’s Lover.


2021 presented two very different halves of the year of UK cinema business. The first four months was marked by cinema closures, before they reopened from early May. October saw the release of the James Bond film No Time To Die, generating the third highest October on record with 16.4 million admissions. The trajectory of recovery saw admissions reach 38.8 million in the final quarter of the year.  The total box office generated by all films on release in the UK and the Republic of Ireland in 2021 was GBP602 million, a 144% increase on the GBP247 million in 2020.


No Time To Die was the highest grossing film of the year with GBP96.6 million. The top 10 films of the year collectively grossed GBP441 million, accounting for 73% of the total box office. While the top 20 UK qualifying film releases grossed £234 million, the top 20 qualifying independent films releases grossed GBP26.8 million. The highest grossing UK independent film was The French Dispatch, which undertook some of its production work in the UK. The BFI’s full report is available online.



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