Production spend in the UK high-end TV (HETV) and film industries reached a record £6.3BN ($7.8BN) in 2022, BFI statistics released today reveal.
This was up £1.8BN on the figure recorded in the pre-pandemic 2019 and is £600M more than last year’s previous record of $5.6BN.
Inwards investment accounted for 86% of the total (£5.4BN) as international streamers and studios continue to invest in the UK’s film and TV production hubs. The BFI’s figures also reveal a welcome box office uptick of more than 50%.
HETV once again contributed most of the spend (£4.3BN) – 69% of the 2022 total. Feature film production provided nearly £2BN, a welcome increase of 27% of 2021’s figure, though independent filmmaking saw investment drop of 31% to £174M.
The HETV numbers includes £938.8M from an increased number of ‘film’ productions made for streaming platforms.
Domestic HETV production spend was £632.7M, 15% of total TV production spend, and 31% higher than pre-pandemic 2019 levels. Co-production spend saw a three-fold increase to hit £36.5M but still only accounted for 1% of the total.
The £4.3BN HETV posted was the second-highest on record, just 3% behind 2021’s £4.4BN, when the industry was experiencing a post-pandemic production spike (the figures have been updated since last year’s official stats were released). To put it into better context, 2022’s figure is 88% figure than in 2019 (£2.3BN). Some 195 HETV projects began principal photography last year, with 55% being inwards investment, 41% domestic UK projects and 4% co-pros.
Inwards investment accounted for 88% (£3.6BN) of the HETV total, more than double the 2019 figure but again 3% down on 2021. Productions included The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season 2, Slow Horses Season 2, Top Boy Season 5 and Bridgerton Season 3. Key revenue-driving domestic HETV productions included ITVX’s Stonehouse and Nolly, the BBC’s Doctor Who and Sky’s I Hate Susie Too.
Total film spend came in at £1.97BN, which was 27% higher than in 2021. Local indie film continued to flounder with investment coming in at £173.6 million, only 9% of the total spend and a 31% decrease on 2021. Co-production spend contributed a 3% increase with £59.1 million.
Box office takings in the UK and Ireland were up significantly to £945M, a 57% increase on 2021, with Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way Of Water (stil on release) and Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness among the biggest grossing films.
Top Gun: Maverick took £83.7M, 9% of the domestic total box office. The top 20 films of the year collectively grossed £644.6M (67% of the total). This was 46% more than the 2021 top 20, which was led by No Time to Die (£98M). Sequels or franchise titles accounted for 12 of the top 20.
The top 20 indie films made £69.2M, 92% of the total box office for all independent UK films released. Belfast was top with £15.6M followed by The Banshees Of Inisherin (£9.3M).
“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,” said BFI CEO Ben Roberts. “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.
“To see audiences coming back to cinemas after the pandemic for Top Gun: Maverick, Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical and independent films such as Belfast shows that film and the big screen experience is very important to people. But while independent UK films such as Aftersun and The Banshees Of Inisherin are enjoying awards and audience success worldwide and are clearly essential to the creativity of our industry and for UK culture, the continuing downturn in production spend on UK indie film means we need to stand behind the recommendations of the Economic Review of UK Independent Film to ensure it survives and thrives.”
Breaking down the film production numbers, 220 films went into production in the UK in 2022, 11 more than was reported for 2021, which was later adjusted to 290. Within this, 100 were domestic UK features contributing £173.6M in spend, representing a 31% decrease on the £253M spend in 2020.
Titles going into production included The Great Escaper, The Critic, Firebrand, Borderland, Starve Acre, Blue Jean, Accused, Unicorns, Time Stalker, Layla and Twiggy.
A further 30 UK-international co-productions generated a UK spend of £59M, representing a 3% increase on 2021’s figures but also more significantly continuing to run ahead of pre-pandemic spending levels.
As a result, 2022’s co-production spending is now the highest since 2013. Co-productions included The Old Oak, Club Zero, The Outrun, The Tutor, Galliano, The Pod Generation and American Star.
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.
The productions included the provisionally titled Mickey7, Wicked Part 1 & 2, Fast X, Barbie, The Beekeeper, Empire of Light, Civil War, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two, Magic Mike’s Last Dance, A Haunting In Venice, My Mother’s Wedding, Strangers, Love Lies Bleeding, Meg 2: The Trench, The Interpreter, The Boys In The Boat and Kraven the Hunter.
Non-US studio inward investment films generated a spend of £382.2 million, a 34% increase on £283.2 million in 2021.
Overall, the film and TV numbers are a boon for the UK industry, which is facing a tough outlook, as rising costs, changing viewing habits and global factors such as war combine to create challenging market for growth.
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