UK film sector buoyant but BFI stats reveal local declines.

The amount spent on UK independent films and the number of them declined in 2013, according to new statistics from the BFI.

While the UK film sector remains generally buoyant, with more companies than ever, strong box office, awards success and high levels of inward investment, the BFI’s Statistical Yearbook, published today, also reveals some areas of decline.

Production spend

Total production spend in the UK increased from £994m in 2012 to £1.07bn last year.

The UK remains turbo-charged by inward investment. Inward investment films - attracted by UK tax breaks and crew - contributed £860m (81%) to the total UK production spend in 2013, up £189m (28%) from 2012 but lower than spends in 2010 and 2011.

A total of 16 big budget films accounted for 72% of the total UK spend.

However, domestic UK films spent £154m on production last year, a fall of £90m from 2012. While data for the year is still being collected, the figure is the lowest since 2004.

Production volume

Last year 241 films were produced in the UK, down from 326 in 2012. Of these 167 were domestic UK films, 104 of which had budgets under £500k. The median budget was £140k.

The sharp drop in volume is in part due to data still being collected on low-budget and micro-budget films. However, films with budgets of more than £500k (63) were still at their lowest level since 2006.

The picture is rosier for inward investment films, of which there were 37 in 2013 - around the average for recent years - while UK/US studio films increased to 19, the highest number since 2006 and the second-highest on record.

The number of co-productions last year dropped to 37 from 45 in 2011 and 2012. 

Box office and distribution

UK box office receipts in 2013 were a strong £1,083m, the third year in row the UK has crossed £1bn. However, takings were 1% down on 2012, signalling the first time the UK has posted negative growth since 2006.

Admissions were 165.5m, a 4% year-on-year decline.

UK independent films accounted for 6.6% theatrical market share, down from 9.3% in 2012 and 13.1% in 2011 while 64% of those films made less than £100k at the local box office.

Animation was the UK’s favourite genre at the cinema for the first time in 2013, taking £247 million and led by Despicable Me 2.

The UK is increasingly cluttered and top heavy with a record 698 films released, at an average of more than 13 per week. A total of 50 of those account for 73.7% of the total box office, with 598 accounting for just 9% of gross revenues.

At a morning press briefing, BFI Film Fund director Ben Roberts called the 698 number “unsustainable”.

“I’d ideally like to see us rally around a smaller number of great films”, he said.

The total VoD film market is estimated to be worth £323m, up 37% on 2012 and up more than 400% since 2002. Apple was the highest earning VoD provider, but YouTube is the most used provider to access feature film on VoD.

International performance

UK films earned £4.1bn in the global theatrical market in 2013, down from $5.3bn in 2012, and its lowest level since 2009. The significant 15% year-on-year decrease is in large part down to Skyfall’s mega-success in 2012.

The share of UK independent films at the global box office (1.6%) was at its joint-lowest level since 2006.

Specialised films

A record 279 foreign language films made up 40% of total releases but shared just 2% of box office. Hindi was the top non-English language at the box office with Dhoom: 3 the highest-earning film.

Documentaries also continued to rise. A record 89 releases accounted for 13% of the total releases.

Public funding

Total measured public funding for film in the UK in 2012/13 was £363m, a decline of just under 1% on 2011/12. The film production tax relief accounted for 57% of that.


The number of film and video production companies continued to rise, growing to 9,595 from 8,865.