• £1.9 billion spent on UK-based film productions
  • 10% increase in investment in film and 18% in high-end TV 
  • £295.3 million invested in 202 films produced in the UK 

Behind the scenes film tv crew cameraman

BFI confident in future of UK film and TV productions 

Production spend on film and TV in the UK reached £3.1bn in 2018, which the BFI hailed as a vote of confidence in the UK’s crews, facilities and locations.

It is the second highest spend on film and TV productions to come out of the UK and 2018 also saw the highest recorded cinema admissions to date.

Some £1.9 billion was spent on film production in 2018, with 71% of UK spend accounted for by films backed by major US studios. This generated a total of £1.4 billion, while UK independent movies accounted for 12% of the box office spend, which was a 2% increase from the previous year.

The British Film Institute (BFI) reported the record figures point to the success the UK has seen in its retention of world-class talent, crews, VFX and production services as well as being home to coveted locations for filming and beneficial tax reliefs.

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The growth points to the strong appetite from audiences wanting high quality film and television and global interest in the UK-based talent and expertise to contribute to the creative sectors success.

The global market share of independent UK produced films at the box office in 2018 grew to 11.7%, which was an increase from 9.5% in 2017 and recorded as the third highest point in a decade.

In 2019, the new James Bond film will go into production, while the final season of Game of Thrones closes the series. The Financial Times reported last year Netflix was rumoured to be in talks with Pinewood Studios to extend a lease and creating its largest European production facility, to help fulfil its planned $8 billion spend on original programme productions, affirming its appeal as a creative hub.

Cinema admissions reach new high
Together, the UK and Republic of Ireland achieved 177 million cinema admissions throughout 2018, the highest level of cinema admissions recorded since 1970 and a 3.7% increase from the previous year with a total worth of £1.4 billion at the box office.

BFI attributed the success to the inward and co-production investments on film and high-end TV production which reached £2.4 billion:

  • £795 million spent on high-end TV production
  • £1.6 billion on feature films

Strong performance of UK independent productions took 12% box office market share, a 2% increase from 2017. This success was led by Darkest Hour at £24.1 million, Johnny English Strikes Again topping £17.7 million and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri with £15.3 million.

The UK-based production sector is growing rapidly from inward and external investment, British Film Commission and Film London chief executive Adrian Wootton, noted the demand for UK talent is attributed to the accessibility of talent and the investment and opportunities to access leading facilities and expertise.

He said: “This demand, and our collective success in consistently delivering at the highest level, ensures we are able to continue driving economic growth and job creation, which in turn provides training opportunities for talent from every background.”

Throughout 2018 there was a significant increase in the investment of 10% in film and 18% in high-end TV productions based in the UK, with further investment expected in 2019.

There were a total of 202 films which went into production in 2018, 131 were domestic UK films with a total interim spend of £295.3 million, up 17% from £253 million last year, with a total spend of £1.9 billion, the second highest recorded level of production spend on record.

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The BFI noted this was a decrease on 2017’s record consolidated spend of £2.2 billion, however the two figures are not comparable due to annual consolidation spend and predicted the year-on-year results will be consistent, published later this year.

“Today’s figures prove that film and television are thriving, a vital creative industry that is outstripping other sectors” - Amanda Nevill, BFI

The BFI stated: “The commercial and cultural strength of the UK’s production sector is grounded in international confidence in the excellence of UK crews, the quality of the UK’s state-of-the-art studios and facilities, our film-friendly locations, the expertise provided by the British Film Commission, which is funded to deliver on inward investment, and the attractive fiscal environment created by the Government’s screen sector tax reliefs.

“This winning combination continues to cement the UK’s reputation as the global destination of choice for film and TV production as well as making exportable films and television programmes.”

BFI chief executive Amanda Nevill said: “In a time of seismic change, today’s figures prove that film and television are thriving, a vital creative industry that is outstripping other sectors.

“With spend for film and high-end television production at almost £3.1 billion, we remain one of the most in demand places in the world to create moving image content. The benefits are being felt UK-wide with production expanding in the nations and regions, boosting the economy, building skills, creating jobs and giving opportunities for people of all backgrounds to join our industry.

“Film is a global business and our creativity and talent remain one of the UK’s most potent exports as we navigate new relationships internationally. Audiences are increasingly watching film and television on a variety of platforms and at the same time are going to the cinema more than ever.

“Such a healthy market share for independent UK films suggests that audiences’ appreciation for home grown stories, as well as big global blockbusters, is on the rise.”

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