Inward investment reached a record high in 2011, whilst the number of films shooting in the UK fell slightly in 2011; independent British films recorded best ever year at the UK box office.

The total investment in UK-based film production reached £1.26 billion in 2011, up fractionally from 2010’s £1.25bn.

Inward investment reached a record high in 2011, with international productions spending £1.007bn in the UK in 2011, an increase in spend of 2.8% from 2010’s £979.7m. This figure has been growing steadily since 2008.

However, the number of international productions shooting in the UK was down from 30 in 2010 to 28 in 2011.

The picture was not so rosy on the home front, with a considerable drop in the number of domestic UK films produced, from 262 in 2010 to 169 in 2011. Of those, the number of films made with budgets of £500k fell from 78 to 71, whilst there was an even bigger drop in the number of films made on budgets of less than £500K, from 184 in 2010 to 98 in 2011.

The expenditure on making UK domestic feature films also fell from £214m in 2010 to £194m in 2011, representing a 9.4% drop. This figure has been declining since 2009, when the amount spent on UK domestic features was £250m.

Conversely, the number of UK co-productions with other countries, the majority with other EU member states, increased to 40 in 2011 from 30 in 2010.

Co-productions recorded a UK spend of £59.0m, up from £56.3m in 2010.  Co-productions dipped to £38.6m in 2009, but have been climbing in the last two years.

Independent British films shooting in the UK in 2011 included Streetdance 2 [pictured], Welcome To The Punch, Great Expectations and The Sweeney, whilst studio backed (but still UK qualifying) films included Snow White And The Huntsman, Batman: The Dark Knight Rises and World War Z.  

When it came to UK box office in 2011, UK cinemas enjoyed a strong year after a 1.4% year-on-year increase in admissions from 2010 to 171.6m - the third highest total of the last decade. Independently made British films also recorded their best ever year with market share up to 13.5%, spearheaded by the excellent performances of The King’s Speech (£45.7m) and The Inbetweeners Movie (£45.0m).

On top of this, 2011 marked the first year that UK only figures, excluding Ireland, broke the £1bn mark. The gross value of 2011 UK box office totalled £1.04bn, up 5% year-on-year, with British films - included independents and those shot in the UK but financed abroad - accounting for 36.2% of this tally, up from 2010’s 24.0% market share, propelled by the series-best performance of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 which conjured up £73.1m.

“It’s still a challenging time for filmmakers trying to raise finance to make independent British films in this tough economic climate. As we enter 2012 many challenges remain, but today’s figures clearly show that keeping audiences at the heart of everything we do will help the British film industry to enjoy even greater success in the future,” said BFI chief executive Amanda Nevill.

Minister for culture, communications and creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, said he “looked forward to working with the BFI and the industry on the [film policy] review’s recommendations and ensuring that we continue to nurture and grow this thriving sector of industry.”

Meanwhile, Adrian Wootton, chief executive of the British Film Commission said he welcomed the figures: “2011’s production figures are further evidence that the UK is home to some of the world’s most talented and sought-after film-making talent. Coupled with our excellent infrastructure and facilities, the UK film industry is continuing to have a positive impact on the economy, which at the moment is something which should be celebrated and of which we should be proud.”