The UK’s vibrant film and TV production sector recorded a stellar start to 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered all shoots across the country.
Largely driven by inward investment, spend was tracking to hit a new record before the closure of sets in March. Still, numbers for January – March totaled $806M ($651M), which is the second-highest Q1 ever behind only the same period in 2017 ($986.6M / £796.4M).
The spend came across 51 film and TV productions, including Universal’s Jurassic World: Dominion, Warner Bros’ The Batman, Sony’s Cinderella, and Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The British Film Institute said that a further 17 productions were forced to postpone their shoot out of Q1 due to the pandemic, which would have led to significantly more money being spent in the quarter.
Inward investment, boosted by the UK tax credit and driven by the studios and streamers, continues to dominate spend on these shores, accounting for 86% of all production costs. As we reported earlier this year, domestic film production in the UK is on a downward trend and this continued at an alarming rate in Q1, with the figure of $21.43M (£17.3M) a huge 72% decrease on the same quarter in 2019. UK projects that stopped filming due to COVID-19 included Robert Mitchell’s The Duke and Reggie Yates’ Pirates.
All of the figures above are interim numbers which will be updated during Q2. The next quarter is likely to be a dead zone from a spend perspective, with production yet to restart as of early May and no clear indication of if it will before Q3, at the time of writing.