Official figures published the Research and Statistics Unit of the BFI, the UK’s lead organisation for film, television and the moving image, reveal the highest spend ever on film and high-end television production in the UK in 2019. This includes high levels of international production investment underlining the UK’s global reputation as the world-leading centre for film and TV production, sustained strong admissions and box office for film in the cinema and box office growth in the market share for independent UK films.
Cinema audiences flocked to see a combination of blockbuster films led by Avengers: Endgame and The Lion King to independent UK films such as Downton Abbey, The Favourite and Yesterday, generating a strong year at the UK and Republic of Ireland box office.
Collectively, films released in 2019 attracted 176 million admissions, a minimal 0.6 per cent decrease on 2018, but still the second biggest year by admissions for 49 years. Total box office revenue for all films released was £1.254 billion, just 2 per cent down on last year.
The spend on high-end television and film production in the UK in 2019 reached £3.62 billion (€4.28bn), a 16 per cent increase on 2018. This is the highest year on record, showing the UK to be the world’s busiest production hub and demonstrating the continued world-class excellence of UK talent, crews, VFX and production services, locations, the supportive fiscal environment created by the UK’s creative sector tax reliefs and the work of the British Film Commission with international producers. These factors play a vital role in attracting inward investment to the UK, and benefitting the UK film economy with 2019 inward investment across film and high television topping £3 billion for the first time.
Film co-production in the UK also saw a 37 per cent uplift in spend with £34 million across 23 productions generated by films including Phyllida Lloyd’s Herself, Viggo Mortensen’s Falling, Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, Uberto Pasolini’s Nowhere Special, Ben Lewin’s Falling For Figaro, James D’Arcy’s Made In Italy, Florian Zeller’s The Father, Liam O’Donnell’s Skylines and Lina Roessler’s Best Sellers.
Inward investment production comes to the UK from a number of different countries. The inward investment data also reveals a notable influx of 29 Indian productions being made in the UK with a collective spend of £112 million, including Mysskin’s Thupparivaalan 2, Amarjit Singh’s Jhalle, Sharan Art’s Galwakdi and Amrit Raj Chadha’s Parauhneya Nu Dafa Karo.
Domestic film and high-end television production generated a production spend of £546.4 million, a decrease of 28 per cent from 2018. Within this figure, domestic film showed a greater drop in spend with £174.7 million, reflecting a decrease of 45 per cent and demonstrating a shifting industry eco-system for domestic production. However, this picture doesn’t reflect the fact that films being made by home-grown are attracting international finance and are therefore classified inward investment, e.g., Sam Mendes’s 1917 and Andy Serkis’s Venom 2. For domestic high-end television production, the spend of £371.7 million represented a decrease of 14 per cent on 2018.
Films made in the UK in 2019 for release in 2020/2021 includes inward investment films such as Cary Joji Fukanaga’s No Time To Die, Cate Shortland’s Black Widow, Sam Mendes’s 1917, Craig Gillespie’s Cruella, Antoine Fuqua’s Infinite, Andy Serkis’s Venom 2, George Clooney’s Good Morning, Midnight, Tim Story’s Tom and Jerry, Daniel Espinosa’s Mobius, Robert Zemeckis’s The Witches, Chloe Zhao’s The Eternals, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, Will Sharpe’s Louis Wain, Danis Tanovic’s The Postcard Killings, John Madden’s Operation Mincemeat and Tanya Wexler’s Jolt.
Domestic UK (independent) productions included Francis Lee’s Ammonite, Euros Lyn’s Dream Horse, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir 2, Kevin Macdonald’s Prisoner 760, Clio Barnard’s Ali & Ava, Barnaby Thompson’s Pixie, Josie Rourke’s This Nan’s Life, Andrew ‘Rapman’ Onwubolu’s Blue Story, Aleem Khan’s After Love, Peter Jackson’s Jamboree Jam, Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s Chasing Chaplin, Aneil Karia’s Surge, Charles Martin Smith’s A Gift From Bob, Edgar Wright’s Last Night In Soho and Autumn de Wilde’s Emma.
The growth in volume of high-end television productions in 2019 included inward investment and co-productions such as Jon East’s Cursed, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Old Guard, The Crown (series 4), Lenny Abrahamson’s Normal People, Andrew Haigh’s The North Water, Michaela Coel’s Jan 22nd, Armando Iannucci’s Avenue 5, Lena Dunham’s Industry, Tom Hooper’s His Dark Materials (series 2), David Moore’s Outlander (series 5), Owen Harris’s Brave New World, Ben Wheatley’s Rebecca, Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s Black Narcissus, Tom Shankland’s The Serpent, Julie Ann Robinson’s Bridgetron, The Spanish Princess (season 2) and The End of the F***ing World (series 2).
Domestic high-end television productions included Aisling Walsh’s Elizabeth is Missing, Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy, Hans Herbots’ Cobra, Christine Gernon’s Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special, Penny Woolcock’s Ackley Bridge (series 3), Claire McCarthy Domina, Chloe Thomas’s The Deceived, John Strickland’s Line of Duty (series 5), Stewart Svaasand’s Tin Star (series 3), John Strickland’s Line of Duty (series 5), Claire McCarthy’s Domina, Robert Quinn’s The Bay (series 2), Rebecca Gatward and Mary Nighy’s Traces, Mackenzie Crook’s Worzel Gummidge, Lynsey Miller’s Deadwater Fell and Kieron Hawkes’s Intergalactic.
Film and high-end television production generates local business activity and jobs: Dream Horse (south Wales); In Sickness, A Discovery of Witches, Brave New World, Industry (Wales); 1917 (Glasgow, south-west England); She Will, Shepherd, Shiddat, Wise Blood, Year of the Rabbit (Scotland), No Time To Die (Highlands, south-west England); The Nest (Glasgow); Deadwater Fell (Ayrshire); Pixie, Here Before, Nowhere Special, Black Medicine, The Deceived (Northern Ireland); Sandition, War of the Worlds, The Spanish Princess (south-west England); The Crown, Eurovision, His Dark Materials, Good Morning, Midnight, Honour (south-east England); Supernova, World on Fire, Cobra (north-west England); Fast & Furious 9, Black Widow (south-east England); Cruella, Grantchester (east of England); Enola Holmes, Galwakdi, Good Luck Jatta, Hello Jindagi (West Midlands); Intergalactic (East Midlands); Censor (Leeds); Ali and Ava, All Creatures Great And Small, The English Game, (Bradford); Pagalpanti, The English Game (Skipton); Everyone’s Talking About Jamie (Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham); The Souvenir 2 (Norfolk); Ammonite (Dorset, London); Sweetheart (Dorset); and After Love (Kent, London) are just a few examples.
“These latest figures show that our world-leading screen industries continue to thrive, attracting audiences all around the globe,” noted Nigel Adams, Minister for Creative Industries. “The increase in inward investment reflects the UK’s acclaimed reputation as a home for fantastic talent and creativity in our film and television sectors.”
“Today’s figures show an incredibly vibrant picture, a sector that continues to grow, delivering billions to the economy and a wide spectrum of jobs all over the UK,” added Amanda Nevill CBE, CEO of the BFI. It’s great to see some of our greatest home-grown talent making big international pictures such as 1917. It also underlines the importance of ensuring that the independent sector, the lifeblood for this growing success, is properly supported.”
“Film and high-end TV are big business, indeed we are the fastest growing sector in the economy, and today’s record breaking figures show the UK continuing to meet the growing demand for content, studio space and world-class skills, talent and technical expertise,” commented Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive of the British Film Commission and Film London. “It’s vital we continue to nurture and champion the exceptional talent across our screen industries; the BFC working together with our public and private partners across the UK to seize the growth opportunities for nations and regions, putting inclusivity and sustainability at the heart of everything we do.”
YEARLY STATISTICS IN DETAIL
Film production in 2019
The year saw 188 feature films go into production with an interim total spend of £1.951 billion, a 6 per cent increase on the previous year and the second highest recorded level of production spend. Consolidated volume and spend figures for 2019 will be published later this year as production reporting is updated.
Of the 188 films which went into production in 2019, 94 were domestic UK films with a total interim spend of £174.7 million, representing a 46 per cent decrease in the number of films and 45 per cent decrease in spend from £318.7 million last year. Independently produced domestic titles in 2019 included Francis Lee’s Ammonite, Euros Lyn’s Dream Horse, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir 2, Kevin Macdonald’s Prisoner 760, Clio Barnard’s Ali & Ava, Barnaby Thompson’s Pixie, Andrew ‘Rapman’ Onwubolu’s Blue Story, Josie Rourke’s This Nan’s Life, Aleem Khan’s After Love, Philippe Martinez’s Shooting Paul, Peter Jackson’s Jamboree Jam, Gillies MacKinnon’s The Last Bus, Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s Chasing Chaplin, Aneil Karia’s Surge, Charles Martin Smith’s A Gift From Bob, Edgar Wright’s Last Night In Soho and Autumn de Wilde’s Emma.
2019 saw £1.742 billion being spent by 71 major inward investment films on production in the UK, supported by the British Film Commission, a significant uplift of 17 per cent on the previous year’s spend, and accounting for 89 per cent of the total spend on film production in the UK over the year. 21 studio-backed films accounted for 71 per cent of the total spend on all production.
Inward investment films made in the UK during 2018 include Sam Mendes’s 1917, Cary Joji Fukanaga’s No Time To Die, Cate Shortland’s Black Widow, Antoine Fuqua’s Infinite, Craig Gillespie’s Cruella, Andy Serkis’s Venom 2, George Clooney’s Good Morning, Midnight, Tim Story’s Tom and Jerry, Daniel Espinosa’s Mobius, Robert Zemeckis’s The Witches, Chloe Zhao’s The Eternals, Guy Ritchie’s Cash Truck, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile, Will Sharpe’s Louis Wain, Danis Tanovic’s The Postcard Killings, Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman; The Great Game, John Madden’s Operation Mincemeat and Tanya Wexler’s Jolt.
The inward investment data also reveals a notable influx of 29 Indian productions being made in the UK with a collective spend of £103.3 million including Mysskin’s Thupparivaalan 2, Amarjit Singh’s Jhalle, Sharan Art’s Galwakdi and Amrit Raj Chadha’s Parauhneya Nu Dafa Karo.
There were 23 UK co-productions going into production in 2018 with spend of £34.2 million compared to the interim spend in 2018 of £25.0 million. Co-productions included Phyllida Lloyd’s Herself, Viggo Mortensen’s Falling, Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, Uberto Pasolini’s Nowhere Special, Ben Lewin’s Falling For Figaro, James D’Arcy’s Made In Italy, Florian Zeller’s The Father, Liam O’Donnell’s Skylines and Lina Roessler’s Best Sellers.
High-end TV production in 2019
2019 has seen a significant boost in high-end television productions made in the UK with an interim spend of £1.665 billion across 123 productions; an increase of 29 per cent on 2018’s consolidated spend of £1.287 billion and also the highest level of spend since the introduction of tax relief.
Of the 123 high-end TV titles, 49 were domestic UK productions with spend of £371.1 million, a 14 per cent increase from the consolidated spend of £433.3 million in 2017. Domestic UK high-end TV titles include Aisling Walsh’s Elizabeth is Missing, Christine Gernon’s Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special, Richard Laxton’s Honour, Juliet May’s Motherland (series 2), Mackenzie Crook’s Worzel Gummidge, Emma Fraser’s Eden, Stella Corradi’s Sitting In Limbo, Chloe Thomas’s The Deceived, Robbie McKillop’s Guilt, Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy, Lynsey Miller’s Deadwater Fell, Rebecca Gatward and Mary Nighy’s Traces, Andy de Emmony’s The Nest, Penny Woolcock’s Ackley Bridge (series 3), Claire McCarthy Domina, John Strickland’s Line of Duty (series 5), Hans Herbots’ Cobra, Farren Blackburn’s A Discovery of Witches and Kieron Hawkes’s Intergalactic.
The 74 inward investment and co-production high-end TV productions crashed through the £1 billion marker with an interim spend of £1.293 billion, a record spend and an increase of 51 per cent on 2018. High-end international TV productions made in the UK last year include Jon East’s Cursed, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Old Guard, The Crown (series 4), Lenny Abrahamson’s Normal People, Andrew Haigh’s The North Water, Armando Iannucci’s Avenue 5, Tom Hooper’s His Dark Materials (series 2),Terry McDonagh’s Killing Eve (series3), Outlander (series 5), Nick Murphy’s A Christmas Carol, Ben Wheatley’s Rebecca, Lena Dunham’s Industry, Michaela Coel’s Jan 22nd, Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s Black Narcissus, Owen Harris’s Brave New World, Julie Ann Robinson’s Bridgetron, Joss Whedon’s The Nevers, David Dobkin’s Eurovision, The Spanish Princess (season 2) and Lucy Forbes and Destiny Ekaragha’s The End of the F***ing World (series 2).
Animation television programme production in 2019
At the time of reporting, 23 animation television programmes went into production in the UK in 2019, with a spend of £39.3 million. Of these, 16 were domestic UK productions and seven were inward investment or co-productions. However, there is a significant time-lag with animation data with fuller reporting later this year.
Animation programmes that went into production in 2018 include Pinkalicious & Pteriffic (series 2), Bear Grylls Young Adventures, Alva and the Trolls, Love Monster and Dog Loves Books.
The UK spend and number of productions data reported are treated as interim results and are consolidated later in the year as final reporting is received.
Box office in 2019
The total box office for all films released was £1.254 billion, just 2 per cent down on last year. Leading the box office was Avengers: Endgame, which took over £88.7 million, followed by The Lion King (£76.0 million), Toy Story 4 (£66.2 million), Joker (£58.0 million) and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (£54.9 million). Ten of the year’s top 20 performing films at the UK box office were UK/USA productions being made in the UK (including Last Christmas which was developed with BFI National Lottery funding) using the UK’s facilities, talent, crew and locations, again demonstrating the strength of the UK as a global production hub, making films that export worldwide.
The top grossing UK qualifying independent films were Downton Abbey, The Favourite, Yesterday, Stan & Ollie and Mary Queen of Scots. The top 20 reflects the diversity of theme and story explored in independent filmmaking including strong and influential women (The Favourite, Mary Queen of Scots, Colette); animation (Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon); contemporary life/coming of age (Blue Story, Fighting With My Family, Blinded By The Light); musical drama (Judy, Yesterday, Fisherman’s Friends, Wild Rose); political/espionage (Red Joan, Official Secrets); action adventure (Angel Has Fallen, The Kid Who Would Be King); and young audiences (Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans). Two films – Stan & Ollie and Wild Rose – were produced by Fable Pictures and both played at the BFI London Film Festival.
The market share of independent UK films at the box office in 2019 was 13 per cent, an increase from 11.7 per cent in 2018. When UK-made, studio-backed films are added to the picture, eg Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Aladdin, Dumbo and Rocketman, the full UK market share increases to 46 per cent, the highest since records began.
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