Film creates an annual £1.5bn trade surplus for UK, according to BFI, but as inward investment rises number of domestic productions, and spend of those productions, fall.

On the day British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to ask the world to invest in Britain, the BFI’s 2012 statistical yearbook reveals a film industry turbo-charged by increasing levels of inward investment, leading to mixed blessings for the independent production sector.    

UK independent films generated higher box office in 2011 than in any other year, both in the UK and abroad, largely off the back of breakout successes for The Inbetweeners Movie and The King’s Speech, but the number of domestic films produced in the UK in 2011 declined year-on-year from 282 in 2010 to 200 in 2011.

The production spend of domestic features fell from £209.1m in 2010 and £249.4m in 2009 to £199.9m in 2011.

In contrast, spend on inward investment films continues to surge with more than £1bn spent on UK-US films (using UK facilities, services and crew) in 2011, up from £975m in 2010 and £836m in 2009. The number of inward investment films also increased year-on-year from 29 in 2010 to 32 in 2011.

The total number of films produced in the UK dropped from 343 in 2010 to 274 last year.

The number of films produced with budgets under £500,000 dropped significantly from 203 in 2010 to 124 last year but co-productions increased from 32 in 2010 to 42 last year, still some way off their peak levels in the early 2000s.

Total UK spend on features produced in the UK rose marginally from £1.25bn in 2010 to £1.272bn in 2011.

UK films accounted for 17.2% of global market share in 2011, with 2.8% global market share from independent films - the highest ever level.

The yearbook highlights the positive impact of what it calls ‘the Harry Potter effect’, including the huge box office and inward investment generated by the eight films as well as Warner Bros’ acquisition of Leavesden Studios.

However, in light of UK films’ global box office market share significantly dipping in the two years in the last decade in which Harry Potter films were not released (there is also one other significant dip in the year of Avatar’s release), the UK will need to find another mega franchise soon if it wants to maintain its global market share.

According to the annual report, now in its tenth year, distributors are spending more on advertising than ever before. Last year’s ad spend was up 16% year-on-year.

The top ten distributors accounted for 94% of the market last year and, interestingly, weekdays accounted for 42% of the total box office, the highest share since BFI records began.

The yearbook also confirms the much-publicised ‘greying’ effect with the percentage of cinema-goers in the 45+ bracket increasing from 18% in 2002 to 28% in 2011.

Between 2009-2011 the leading investors in UK film were the BBC and the BFI followed by Film 4, Northern Ireland Screen and the Scottish Agencies.

The UK production workforce continues to be a largely white, male sector. 92% of respondents to a major 2010 poll of the sector were white and 78% were male. Last year, 85% of UK films made in the UK had male directors, an improvement on 94% in 2007.

In 2011, 76% of the total film and video production workforce were employed in London and the south east.

The yearbook can be found here.

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