UK film and high-end TV (HETV) production hit a record £6.27 billion in 2022, £1.83 billion higher than for the pre-pandemic year of 2019, according to the latest figures from the BFI’s Research and Statistics Unit.

The lion’s share of the total £6.27 billion spend was contributed by HETV production with £4.30 billion, or 69% of the total. Feature film production contributed £1.97 billion, or 31% of the total spend.

1. UK film and high-end TV production hits record £6.27 billion

Ben Roberts, BFI

Inward investment films and HETV shows delivered £5.37 billion, or 86% of the combined production spend underlining the UK’s global reputation as the world-leading centre for film and TV production.

Spend on independent UK filmmaking, however, showed a downturn with £174 million, a 31% decrease on 2021. Co-productions which are generally made by independent producers saw a 3% increase in spend with £59 million, representing continued growth over the past five years.

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Of the total £4.29 billion HETV production spend, inward investment shows contributed £3.62 billion (84% of total HETV spend and a 3% decrease on 2022); domestic UK shows accounted for £632.7 million (15% of total HETV spend and a 4% decrease on 2021) and co-production spend was £36.5 million (less than 1% of total spend but a near three-fold increase on 2022).

Of the total £1.97 billion spend on film production, inward investment films contributed £1.74 billion (88% of total film spend and a 31% increase on 2021); domestic UK films accounted for £173.6 million (8% of total film spend and a 31% decrease on 2021); and co-productions accounted for £59.1 million (3% of total film spend and a 3.5% increase on 2022).

The production statistics also reveal an increasing investment made by streamer platforms in single long-form productions (ie: not episodic or series). In 2022, there were 22 single domestic UK and inward investment productions which contributed £938.8 million to the HETV spend of £4.30 billion. This spend represents a 23% increase on 2021’s £765 million spend on single productions. These productions include Blitz (dir. Steve McQueen), Napoleon (dir. Ridley Scott) and Saltburn (Emerald Fennell).

Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive said: “Today’s record-breaking figures for film and TV production in the UK are great news for our industry and the UK economy and underlines the success of our industry at a global level. Our world-class talent, craft and production services, and vital film and TV tax reliefs, have enabled the UK to be a major player in a highly competitive global industry. Further investment in expanding studio space UK-wide to meet production demand will continue to build on this economic success and create further jobs.

Film production in detail

The total number of films going into production in the UK in 2022 was 220, which is 11 more than was reported for 2021, since updated to 290. The total spend on film production in the UK in 2022 was £1.97 billion, 27% higher than the £1.55 billion for 2021 (subsequently updated to £1.64 billion).

Of the 220 films starting production, 100 are domestic UK features contributing £173.6 million in spend, a 31% decrease on the £253 million spend in 2020. Films which went into production included The Great Escaper (dir. Ol Parker), The Critic (dir. Anand Tucker), Firebrand (dir. Karim Ainouz), Borderland (dir. Charles Guard), the Welsh language Y Swn (dir. Lee Haven Jones), Starve Acre (dir. Daniel Kokotajlo), Blue Jean (dir. Georgia Oakley), Accused (dir. Philip Barantini), Unicorns (dir. Sally El Hosaini), Time Stalker (dir, Alice Lowe), Layla (dir. Amrou Al-Kadhi) and Twiggy (Sadie Frost).

A further 30 UK-international co-productions generated a UK spend of £59 million, representing a 2% increase on 2021’s figures but also more significantly continuing to run ahead of pre-pandemic spend levels. As a result, 2022’s co-production spend is now the highest since 2013. Co-productions included The Old Oak (dir. Ken Loach), Club Zero (dir. Jessica Hausner) The Outrun (dir. Nora Fingscheidt), The Tutor (dir. Alice Troughton), Galliano (dir. Kevin Macdonald), The Pod Generation (dir. Sophie Barthes) and American Star (dir. Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego).

The majority of spend was contributed by inward investment films with £1.74 billion, accounting for 88% of the total UK spend and a 31% increase on 2021’s now updated spend of £1.32 billion. US studio-backed films contributed £1.36 billion spend on production, a 31% increase on 2021 spend. Inward investment films included the provisionally titled Mickey7 (dir. Bong Joon Ho), Wicked Part 1 & 2 (dir. John M Chu), Fast X (dir. Louis Leterrier), Barbie (dir. Greta Gerwig), The Beekeeper (dir. David Ayer), Empire of Light (dir. Sam Mendes), Civil War (dir. Alex Garland), Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part Two (dir. Christopher McQuarry), Magic Mike’s Last Dance (dir. Steven Soderbergh), A Haunting In Venice (dir. Kenneth Branagh), My Mother’s Wedding (dir. Kristin Scott Thomas), Strangers (dir. Andrew Haigh), Love Lies Bleeding (dir. Rose Glass), Meg 2: The Trench (dir. Ben Wheatley), The Interpreter (dir. Guy Ritchie), The Boys In The Boat (dir. Georges Clooney) and Kraven the Hunter (JC Chandor)

Non-US studio inward investment films generated a spend of £382.2 million, a 34% increase on £283.2 million in 2021.

Whilst single films shown on VoD platforms such as Netflix are made in the same way as films for cinema release, their production spend is included within the total spend for HETV, reflecting that they qualify for HETV tax relief. The 22 long-form single episode HETV projects had a combined UK spend of £939 million; an alternative analysis would show that this spend would increase the film spend by 48% to £2.91 billion, the highest film figure on record. Productions contributing to this spend include Blitz (dir. Steve McQueen), Napoleon (dir. Ridley Scott), Heart Of Stone (dir. Tom Harper), The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar And More (Wes Anderson), Saltburn (Emerald Fennell), Locked In (dir. Nour Wazzi), Our Man From Jersey (dir. Julian Farino) and Good Grief (dir. Daniel Levy).

High-end television production in detail

HETV production in the UK has boomed since the introduction of the UK’s HETV tax relief in 2013. In 2022, UK spend was £4.30 billion, the second highest year. It is 3% lower than the record-breaking 2021 spend of £4.43 billion (updated since published figures in February 2021) which represented an acceleration in production activity following disruption during the pandemic. However, the 2022 spend represents an 88% increase on 2019’s pre-pandemic spend £2.29 billion.

Of the 195 HETV productions that started principal photography in 2022, 55% were inward investment, 41% were domestic UK projects and 4% were co-productions. The 80 domestic UK productions represents the second highest number of productions since the introduction of the tax relief exceeded by 2021’s record level of activity.

Inward investment accounted for 84% of the total HETV production spend in 2022. This £3.63 billion spend is the second highest recorded UK spend, a 3% decrease on the record high of 2021 but more than double 2019’s pre-pandemic high of £1.80 billion.

Inward investment HETV productions made last year include The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season 2 (dir. Sanaa Hamri), Happy Valley (series 3, dir. Patrick Harkins), The Gold (dir. Aneil Karia), Apartment 7A (dir. Natalie Erika James), Good Grief (dir. Daniel Levy), Great Expectations (dir Lucy Forbes), Slow Horses 2 (dir. Saul Metzstein), Troubled Blood - Strike (dir. Sue Tully), Disclaimer (dir. Alfonso Cuaron), Treason (dir. Louise Hooper), Bridgerton (series 3), The Crown (season 6), The Gentlemen (dir. Guy Richie), The Buccaneers (dir. Susanna White), One Day (dir. Molly Manners), Never Let Me Go (dir. Marc Munden), The Woman In The Wall (dir. Harry Wootliff), Top Boy (series 5) and Flatshare (dir. Peter Cattaneo).

Domestic HETV productions – 41% of all HETV shows – generated a spend of £633 million across 80 shows, representing 15% of the total spend. It is the second highest annual spend on record and a and 30% ahead of the £484.5 million spend in pre-pandemic 2019. Domestic HETV productions included Stonehouse (dir. Jon S Baird), Nolly (dir. Peter Hoar), Maryland (dir. Susan Tully), Granite Harbour (dir. Gary Williams), Malpractice (dir. Philip Barantini), Dreamland (dir. Ellie Heydon), Archie (dir. Paul Andrew Williams), Detectorists Special (dir. Mackenzie Crook), Cobra: Rebellion (series 3, dir Charles Sturridge), Doctor Who (series 14, dir. Rachel Talalay), Waterloo Road (series 7), I Hate Suzie Too (series 2), The Lazarus Project (series 11), Silent Witness (series 26), The Pact II, Mayflies, Ghosts (series 4), Bad Education (series 4), Inside No. 9 and The Tower (series 2).

The UK spend associated with co-production in 2022 was £36.5 million, accounting for 1% of the total spend. This is the highest UK spend seen for HETV co-productions and 78% higher than the £20.5 million spend in 2019. Productions included Wolf (dir. Kris Nyholm), Domina (series 2, dir. David Evans), Devil’s Peak (dir. Jozua Malherbe), Professor T (dir. Dries Vos), Christmas In London (dir Jonathan Wright) and Death In Paradise (series 2, dir Ruth Carney).

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