UK prime minister Gordon Brown confirmed on Friday (October 16) that the government will provide $73m (£45m) in funding for a new national film centre on London’s South Bank.

The injection of funds has been on the table for a while, but this is the first time it has been publically announced by the government.

The centre, which is expected to be completed by 2015 close to the London Eye on the South Bank, will also be home to five digital screens, with one large auditorium capable of holding events currently hosted by the Odeon Leicester Square, such as the opening night of the London Film Festival.The current BFI building will revert back to the ownership of the South Bank centre in 2015.

The total cost of the National Film Centre is expected to be $271m (£166m).  The London Mayor’s office has already committed $8m (£5m) to the project and it is expected that the BFI will contribute $24m-$32m (£15m-£20m) from the sale of their current offices in Stephen Street. This rest is expected to come from private investors.

A spokesperson from the UKFC said that the new film centre “seemed to be a reflection of the proposed merger between the BFI and the UKFC”, but that, as yet, there was no talk of the UKFC relocating to the Southbank. “The merger discussions have only just got going, and the film centre is about having a cultural focal point, not about office space at this point” he added.

Speaking at a press conference at the BFI’s current home on the South Bank on friday evening, Brown dedicated the new centre to former BFI chair Anthony Minghella: “Everyone here tonight knows that there was one man who fought harder for this industry than anyone. A man who dedicated his life to creative expression, and for whom a new home for British film remained a lifelong goal. We owe more to him in this than any other single individual.”

Current BFI chair Greg Dyke called it a “great day for British film.”

UKFC chief executive John Woodward added: “This is a key milestone on the road towards the UK Film Council and the BFI’s shared objective of transforming the cultural film offering to UK citizens in the digital age. Not only will film now have a fitting home on the best arts campus in the world, but the development will use digital to open up the archive and all the other film treasures that the BFI holds for the benefit of everyone in the UK.”