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Film, TV spend in UK hits record levels

Forthcoming BBC2 four-part drama The North Water

A record amount was spent on film and high-end television production in the UK last year, according to official figures published today by the British Film Institute (BFI)’s research and statistics unit.

Film and high-end TV production spend in the UK was more than £3.6bn (US$4.7 bn) in 2019, the highest amount on record and an increase of 16% from 2018.

Alongside Hollywood blockbusters such as Avengers: Endgame, The Lion King and Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker, high-end TV production topped £1.66bn, a 29% increase on 2018 and the highest level since the introduction of the tax relief in 2013.

UK independent productions also delivered their highest market share at the box office for five years at 13%, led by the feature film version of Downton Abbey, which made £28.2m.

The BFI said the figures underlined the UK’s global reputation as the world-leading centre for film and TV production.

However, domestic film and high-end television production generated a production spend of £546.4m, a decrease of 28% from 2018. Within this figure, domestic high-end TV production spend accounted for £371.7m, representing a decrease of 14% on 2018.

The growth in volume of high-end TV productions in 2019 included inward investment and coproductions such as Cursed, The Old Guard, The Crown, Normal People, The North Water, Jan 22nd, Avenue 5, Industry, His Dark Materials, Outlander, Brave New World, Rebecca, Black Narcissus, The Serpent, Bridgerton, The Spanish Princess and The End of the F***ing World.

Amanda Nevill

Domestic high-end TV productions included Elizabeth is Missing, A Suitable Boy, Cobra, the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special, Ackley Bridge, The Deceived, Line of Duty, Tin Star, Domina, The Bay, Traces, Worzel Gummidge, Deadwater Fell and Intergalactic.

At the time of reporting, 23 animation television programmes also went into production in the UK in 2019, with a spend of £39.3m. Of these, 16 were domestic UK productions and seven were inward investment or coproductions. However, there is a significant time lag with animation data, with fuller reporting due later this year, the BFI said.

Animation programmes that went into production in 2018 include Pinkalicious & Peteriffic, Bear Grylls Young Adventurer, Alva & the Trolls, Love Monster and Dog Loves Books.

Nigel Adams, UK minister for creative industries, said: “These latest figures show that our world-leading screen industries continue to thrive, attracting audiences all around the globe. The increase in inward investment reflects the UK’s acclaimed reputation as a home for fantastic talent and creativity in our film and television sectors.”

Amanda Nevill CBE, CEO of the BFI, said: “Today’s 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.”

Adrian Wootton OBE, CEO of the British Film Commission (BFC) and Film London, added: “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.

“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.”

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