The UK production sector continued to go from strength to strength with overall spend on film hitting a record £1.9B ($2.7B). Of this, £1.69B came in the form of inward investment, an 23% increase on 2016. In television, high-end drama scripted production reached £938M with a record £684M coming from foreign productions, a 27% increase on the previous year. The figures were revealed today as part of the BFI’s annual statistics report, which also covers box office.
These film figures included 68 major productions filmed in the UK including Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World, Tim Burton’s Dumbo, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission Impossible 6 and David Yates’ sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Meanwhile, the 130 UK films produced domestically spent £189.6M, down on the £206M spent on the 129 UK films made the previous year. This year’s crop includes Idris Elba’s Yardie, Mike Leigh’s Peterloo, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir, Tom Harper’s Country Music and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.
There were 130 domestic UK films made in the UK in 2017, with a total spend of £189M. Independently produced domestic titles in 2017 include Tinge Krishnan’s Been So Long, Peter Strickland’s In Fabric, Mandie Fletcher’s Patrick, Josie Rourke’s Mary, Queen of Scots and Tom Edmunds’ Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back).
Total ticket sales for the UK and the Republic of Ireland were worth £1.38B, up 3.7%, with admissions up 1%, rebounding from 2016’s 2% dip. Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Beauty and the Beast, Dunkirk, Despicable Me 3 and Paddington 2 were the five highest grossing films of the year.
The adventures of the bear from Peru was the top grossing UK indie, (£41M), followed by T2 Trainspotting (£17.1M), U.S. co-pro Baby Driver (£13.1M), Victoria and Abdul (£10.1M) and The Death of Stalin (£5.1M) UK indies picked up 9.5%% of the overall box office, up from 7.4% in 2016.
The British production sector is continuing to take advantage of the global drama boom with 49 international series and co-productions, including season eight of Games of Thrones, Netflix’s Jim Henson puppet series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance and C4/Amazon sci-fi series Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams, bringing in £684M, 27% up on last year.
However, while spend was up, the number of high-end TV series filmed in the UK fell from 108 to 91, suggesting that broadcasters are ordering fewer, more expensive thrillers to compete. The figures also highlighted issues with domestic drama productions with 42 domestic titles filmed in 2017, down on the 66 produced last year. 2017 was the first year on record where co-pros and foreign shows filmed in the UK outstripped domestic dramas.
Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries said the figures highlighted the UK’s reputation as a global destination for film and TV production. “From Star Wars to The Crown, the UK is a creative powerhouse for developing many award-winning films and shows enjoyed by millions globally. We have world-class studios, a talented workforce and highly competitive tax reliefs, and these fantastic stats show investment in our screen industries is booming,” she said.
Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI, said: “Productions such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Paddington 2 and Game of Thrones deliver new employment opportunities for everyone UK-wide, with every conceivable skill required, from special effects designers to costumiers, accountants and drivers. What’s more it creates the most potent export to showcase the UK and our innate creativity and is a powerful and timely reminder of the UK as a major global player.”
Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of the British Film Commission and Film London, added: “Film and high-end TV are big business, and today’s figures show the UK continuing to meet the growing demand for content and world-class skills, talent and technical expertise. Whether producing lavish period dramas or fantasy epics, every corner of the UK is delivering at the highest level, and our success ultimately translates to economic growth, job creation and training opportunities. This said, however, global competition remains fierce and the landscape continues to shift, meaning we can’t afford to rest on our laurels when it comes to supporting our industry and the highly-skilled workforce that drives it.”