The combined spend by film and high-end television production (HETV) in the UK during 2021 reached a record £5.64 billion, according to official BFI figures.
The figure confirms the recovery of film and drama production since the pandemic, and is £1.27 billion higher than for the pre-pandemic year 2019.
April to June was the business part of the production year with £2.29 billion of film and high-end television production spend, the highest three-month period for film and HETV spend on record, outstripping £1.54 billion generated July to September 2019.
Inward investment and co-production films and HETV shows delivered £4.77 billion, or 84% of the production spend underlining the UK’s global reputation as a world-leading centre for film and TV production. HETV shows accounted for £3.44 billion, or 72% of the combined total spend; feature films contributed £1.33 billion, or 28% of the spend.
The 2021 production statistics also 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 £737 million to the HETV spend of £4.09 billion. These productions include Pinocchio, Matilda: The Musical, Persuasion and Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
The number of films going into production in the UK in 2021 was 209 films, which is 75 more than reported for 2020, a year which was significantly disrupted by the arrival of the pandemic. The total spend on film production in the UK in 2021 was £1.55 billion, a 13% increase on 2020’s reported £1.36 billion spend. Big inward investment films included The Batman, Aquaman 2, The Marvels and Mission: Impossible 7.
HETV production in the UK has boomed since the introduction of the UK’s HETV tax relief (2013) delivering a new record spend of £4.09 billion in 2021 from 211 productions. It is 155% higher than 2020 and 85% higher than the pre-pandemic record of £2.21 billion generated in 2019. Inward investment and co-production – 55% of all HETV shows – are driving this growth, accounting for £3.44 billion or for 84% of the total spend.
The spend on animation television programmes made in the UK in 2021 was £73 million across 30 productions. This represents a 19% drop on the spend on animation programmes in 2020 however as further data becomes available it may increase; it is 20% higher than the £61 million spend reported last February for 2020 which was subsequently updated.
Ben Roberts, BFI chief executive said: “The record-breaking level of film and TV production in the UK revealed today is good news for our industry and the UK economy and demonstrates the speed of the sector’s recovery. The groundwork for further growth is underway with expansion of studio spaces and production hot spots across our nations and regions, 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 screensector tax reliefs and the Film & TV Production Restart Scheme have played an important part in the industry’s growth and recovery.