The BBC has announced a substantial increase inits intended film production and acquisition budget.
All of the proposed investments are subject tothe favourable settlement of the current licence fee negotiations but the broadcaster says its new plans could mean an investment of $522m (£300m) to British film over its next 10-year charter period.
If approved, the investments would mean:
* Starting in April 2007, an increase in the BBC's film production budget from the current $17m (£10m) a year to $26m (£15m)
* Subject to a review in 2008, a further budget rise to $35m (£20m) per year.
* A guaranteed extra $8.7m (£5m) per year, or $87m (£50m) between 2007 and 2017 for acquisition of British films for BBC channels - the first timeit has guaranteed a spend for film acquisitions.
* Additional growth in the acquisition budget, potentially reaching $17m (£10m) per year.
Whilethe industry can certainly benefit from increased production funding, theraising of the BBC's acquisition budget (currently about £6m per year on allfilms going up to £11m per year) is especially encouraging for Britishfilm-makers who now have more likelihood of selling their film to television.
TheBBC also noted that it planned to acquire British films for its flagshipchannels BBC1 and BBC2, not just for its smaller channels.
Whilethe amount of money is small in comparison to a Hollywood blockbuster's budget(or the license fee that currently generates nearly £3bn per year for theentire BBC), BBC Creative Director Alan Yentob hopesthat the BBC's new commitment to film spending will spur other investment inthe UK film industry.
"For every pound that we invest, that brings in otherplayers and other partners," Yentob said.
Filmssupported by this BBC strategy will be defined as British based on theDepartment of Media, Culture and Sport's new Cultural Test for British Film.
Theincreased funding won't start until 2007 so the
Inaddition to the BBC's new internal strategy for film, it announced a newpartnership with the
Thepartnership's two main aims will be to build enthusiasm and awareness for filmamong
"Thisis a significant step up in the investment by the BBC of money into the Britishfilm industry," said UKFC CEO John Woodward of the partnership and the BBC'snew investment strategy.
Woodward notedthat a potential $52.2m (£30m) per year could make a big difference in terms ofindigenous
In its submission to the
Yentob noted that the strategy announced today was justthe starting point but "none of us has any objections to growing that budget'We'llbe practical about growing that pot," he said.
Tim Willis, director of filmat producers group Pact, said the announcement was a positive step.
"Pact hasrepeatedly said the BBC is in a unique position to invest in and develop thewealth of talent in the British film industry and to contribute much neededventure capital to the film production sector," Willis said.
"We believe the UKFilm Council has done a good job in persuading the BBC to take this step. Thetarget level of investment, coupled with the new tax credit, should contributemeaningfully to greater sustainability in the production of British films."
"It's a fluid industry and the film and TV world will be closerand closer in the future," said Jana Bennett, director of television for
She noted thatthe strategy will include a specific film outlook for each
DavidThompson, head of
Thompsonsaid BBC Films future plans would move away from stereotypically BBC stuffydramas into "a bit more comedy and more lighter fare."They also plan to work on some larger-budget projects, such as Edge of Darkness, a thriller based onthe 1985 miniseries, being developed with director Martin Campbell that willlikely shoot in 2007.
Headded that BBC would look for projects "not based on the scale of the budget, butthe scale of ambitions."
BBC Films haspreviously worked on projects including MrsHenderson Presents, Bullet Boy, A Cock & Bull Story, Match Point, BillyElliot, and Mrs Brown.
Channel 4 said it had nocomment about the likelihood of an increased film budget at this point.