Movies including the Star Wars sequels and Fantastic Beasts have seen investment in the UK film production industry rise to £1.6billion, the highest since measurement began in 1994, according to the British Film Commission.
London accounts for by far the largest percentage of the 200 feature films shot in Britain.
The present up tick was kick started by the decision to film Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Pinewood Studio in 2014, lured here by tax breaks offered by the then Chancellor George Osborne. It triggered a run of blockbusters including Rogue One: A Star Wars Story which had scenes shot in the Canary Wharf Tube station.
Two likely blockbusters of 2017 – Justice League and The Last Jedi – are both London-based productions. Meanwhile, the technical skill set which has always been a strength of the industry has seen its reputation further enhanced with films like Gravity.
Chief executive of the British Film Commission and Film London Adrian Wootton said: “2016 was a banner year for the UK’s film and TV industries, which attracted record levels of inward investment, and some of the world’s most ambitious productions.
“Our industry offers the complete package in terms of talent, skills, facilities, VFX expertise and competitive tax reliefs, so it’s no wonder international film and TV clients continue to make the UK their destination of choice.”
Some 48 of the 200 feature films shot in the UK were funded from abroad with £1.35billion representing 85% of the total. Eighty-four high-end small screen productions – defined as those with a budget in excess of £1million – started their shoots in Britain last year, with a total spend of £726million. Shows funded from outside the UK generated £478million, the highest sum since analysis began, and 11% up on the previous year.
BFI CEO Amanda Nevill said: “These statistics our position as a global leader for film and TV production is stronger than ever.
“Quintessentially British stories from leading British talent, such as Bridget Jones’s Baby, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and The Crown, are generating investment, creating jobs and winning audiences at home and across the globe.”
New studio in the east
The boom comes at a time when the capital is looking to markedly increase its capacity with a massive new studio in east London.
East Brook Studios would be based in Dagenham and is back by Film London and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. The plan took a major step forward in December when the nine-acre site was purchased by the local authority for £12million from owner Sainsbury’s.
Barking and Dagenham councillor Darren Rodwell said: “Building London’s largest film studios here will boost the economy by bringing in hundreds of jobs for local people and businesses directly and indirectly in the supplier chain.
“It will build on our borough’s burgeoning reputation as London’s latest cultural hot spot.”
Two other studios on the fringes of the capital – Pinewood and Warner Bros, home of Harry Potter – are also undergoing expansion. Production of Paddington 2, which used both those studios, wraps this month.
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