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British film industry broke £1 billion in takings last year, BFI study reveals

New research from the BFI shows the British film industry is growing exponentially, and broke the £1 billion mark on box office takings for the first time last year

The British industry thrived during 2011 with UK box office takings breaking £1 billion for the first time in a calendar year – up 64 per cent compared to ten years ago – according to new figures published today by the BFI. 

Film production spend in the UK topped £1.27 billion in the same year – a new record for the British film industry – while the UK film industry directly contributed £3.3 billion to UK GDP in 2010.

Compiled by the British Film Institute’s Research and Statistics Unit, the Statistical Yearbook presents the most comprehensive picture of film in the UK and the performance of British films abroad during 2011.

The Yearbook is a graphic demonstration of how important the film industry is to British cultural and public life. With less than 1 per cent of the world’s population, the UK is nevertheless the third largest consumer of film by value in the world.

Worldwide, UK films and talent took $5.6 billion at the global box office (a 17 per cent market share), while at home film production generated record levels of inward investment for the UK economy. British film exports have trebled since 2001, totalling £2.1 billion in 2010, and are 201 per cent higher than in 2001, exporting £2.1 billion worth of services in 2010.

The film industry continues to be an important UK employer; employing a total of 62,000 people in 2011, up from 48,000 in 2010.

Importantly, UK cinema-goers have proved themselves supporters of home grown talent. British films took the top three places at the box office in 2011 and independent British films claiming a 13 per cent share of the total UK box office – the highest on record.

The highest grossing film of the year was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – a UK-made film backed by US studio Warner Bros – which earned £73 million in the UK and over £1.3 billion worldwide, becoming the third highest grossing film of all time in the UK.

In second and third place at the UK box office came the independently made British films The King’s Speech, which took £46 million, and The Inbetweeners Movie on £45 million.

Comedy is consistently the UK’s favourite genre and 2011 was no exception; comedy films earned £254 million at the UK box office – 22 per cent of the year’s total takings.

Chief Executive of the BFI Amanda Nevill said: “UK film is punching above its weight on the world stage, with British stories and talent captivating global audiences, the British public embracing film-watching in increasing numbers, and British independent films enjoying unprecedented levels of success. The Yearbook provides compelling evidence of UK film’s increasing importance to our economy.

But while 2011 was undoubtedly a fantastic year, we are far from complacent; it’s still a tough economic climate in which to raise finance for film production, and digital technologies continue to bring both challenges and opportunities for industry. We are committed to increasing Lottery funding for UK film in the round over the next five years, and we are working closely and collaboratively with our partners and stakeholders to deliver robust support for UK film right across the value chain, to ensure we maintain momentum and UK film continues to go from strength to strength.”

Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The UK is home to some of the most talented and creative people in the global film industry, as demonstrated by the 30 major film awards that we won last year. With a record £1.27 billion spent on UK-based film productions last year, this dynamic industry continues to create jobs and attract significant overseas investment and the Government is committed to ensuring this sector continues to flourish and thrive.”


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