British Prime Minister David Cameron will visit Pinewood studios today where he is expected to urge filmmakers to ramp up efforts to rival Hollywood by making more “commercially successful pictures.” Cameron’s visit comes just ahead of next week’s release of the findings of a government film policy review overseen by former culture secretary Chris Smith with input from such folk as Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. According to Cameron’s official website, the review is expected to suggest the UK’s Lottery funding scheme be rebalanced to support more mainstream films with commercial potential as well as culturally rewarding films. The news is likely to upset the independent film community, with director Ken Loach already appearing on the BBC today to say: “If you knew what was going to be successful before you made it then we’d all be millionaires. It doesn’t work like that. Public money should go to fund a wide variety of projects and people.” The review is further expected to propose that the British Film Institute reinvest returns into film companies with the most box office success.
In remarks on his website, Cameron said: “Our role, and that of the BFI, should be to support the sector in becoming even more dynamic and entrepreneurial, helping UK producers to make commercially successful pictures that rival the quality and impact of the best international productions. Just as the British Film Commission has played a crucial role in attracting the biggest and best international studios to produce their films here, so we must incentivise UK producers to chase new markets both here and overseas.” In 2010, the UK produced The King’s Speech, which went on to earn over $400 million worldwide. Last year, The Inbetweeners Movie — another homegrown, though decidedly less highbrow, hit — was a big local success with over $70 million in UK box office. However, the UK is facing the first year since the Harry Potter franchise has been put to bed, and despite the continuing influx of high-profile Hollywood films that shoot there (think Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises), Cameron is clearly looking for a way to bring the spotlight to Britain without the use of Hollywood coin. “In this year when we set out bold ambitions for the future, when the eyes of the world will be on us, I think we should aim even higher, building on the incredible success of recent years,” he said.