Spending by US productionsshooting in the UK plunged by more than 30% last year, according to annualfigures from support body the UK Film Council.

The news follows this week'sfigures from Screen International showing that the number of local filmsshooting also slipped by around 40%.

Counting all productions,the Council calculated that spending fell to £800m last year, down from 2003'srecord £1.15bn.

The Council stressed that2003 had been a record year and that production was expected to drop back. TheCouncil pointed out that inward investment from US films was down on 2003'srecord levels but higher than 2002, when Hollywood was decimated by the threatof the US actors strike.

Inward investment fromoverseas productions brought in £476.92m last year, with a further £71.57mgenerated from foreign films co-produced with the UK.

"Whilst lower than therecord film production spending of 2003, these figures show that the wealth oftalent in the UK film industry, together with our outstanding studios and facilitiesand our fiscal incentives, continued to attract a huge amount of internationalproduction in 2004," said British Film Commissioner Steve Norris.

The picture was grimmer forlocal films, however. According to the Council's figures, the level of investmentin UK films crashed by almost 60% compared to 2003, and was still down on 2002.Spending on UK productions totalled £117.81m last year, compared to 2003's£277m and £156.36 million in 2002.

UK co-productions also fellyear-on-year, though not as dramatically as wholly indigenous productions.Co-productions in the UK amounted to £141.61m, down from 2003's £168.8m, but up13% on 2002's £128.23 million. In all, the UK was involved in 132 films,including 27 UK features, 20 inward investment films produced in the UK, and 85co-productions.

"The reduction in indigenous(solely British) film production is the product of a number of factors,including the long-term trend towards co-production of films in more than onecountry." Norris said. "Changes to financing arrangements during the yearundoubtedly had an effect."