Should UK broadcasters show more UK films?

Last Friday, the UK’s media regulator, Ofcom, instructed the BBC to increase the number of original UK television programmes it shows at peak-time.  Ofcom pointed to the BBC’s Royal Charter, which includes the duty for BBC output to be “distinctive, creative and [reflect] the UK’s diverse communities”. 

Based on new research, Ofcom said that original, UK-made programming is increasingly important to the UK population and so they have increased the BBC’s obligations towards new, UK-made content.

The Ofcom statement focused on television programmes, but it raises the question: what obligations should public service broadcasters have towards UK-made movies?

So I thought I’d take a look at how British films fare on British public service broadcast networks and ask if Ofcom should extend their new rules to …

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The effect of Brexit on the UK film industry

It’s been almost a year since I last addressed the topic of Brexit on this blog and I’ve wanted to give you an update for a while. The reason you’re reading this now is that the BFI have finally released an internal report (commissioned last summer) which looks at the effect of Brexit on the UK’s screen sector.

The report was put out to tender last August and the finished document delivered to the BFI’s Screen Sector Task Force in January. It wasn’t publicly available, so I put in a Freedom of Information request and last Friday the report was added to the BFI site. I strongly recommend that you download and read the full report yourself. It’s 84 pages long …

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The UK’s secret 20% tax relief for short films

Short films have long been a vital part of the journey of new filmmakers, allowing them to learn new skills, meet like-minded collaborators and showcase their talent.  

Most people’s first few shorts have a budget of almost (or exactly) nothing, with the filmmakers relying on the help of friends and family.  However, as their ambition grows, so too must their budget. The cost of a short film can vary wildly, but over half of the short films submitted to the Raindance Film Festival cost more than £3,000.

Short filmmakers do all sorts of things to raise money for their short films, including crowdfunding, applying to schemes, begging family and spending their own savings.  So it may come as a surprise …

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How important is the UK theatrical market to British films?

Last month, I gave my annual lecture at the National Film and Television School (NFTS), looking at the business side of the UK film industry. It’s an enjoyable lecture to give, in part because the audience is made up from across all the disciplines (so animators, cinematographers, directors, producers, production managers, etc).  This mix often results in a wide variety of questions and this time there was a question I promised to explore further in a blog article.  

The query was sparked by a section of my talk which showed that the majority of the box office income collected by most British films is collected in the UK.  This surprised some attendees as the film industry is normally viewed by professionals as …

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How much of the UK film economy comes from abroad?

As we’ve previously discussed, the UK film economy is currently in bullish form.  One of the major reasons is the high levels of ‘Inward Investment’  i.e. films from other countries which are choosing to shoot in the UK.  

A few people have asked me to give an idea of just how much of the UK film economy comes from abroad.

How much of the UK film economy comes from aboard?

Productions funded by non-British sources have been growing significantly over the past decade. In 2016 they accounted for 85% of the money spent on film production in the UK, up from 67% in 2006.  This is thanks to the recent trend of the UK housing some of the world’s biggest films, such as all …

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The cost of movie Prints and Advertising

Last week’s piece on the division of box office cinema has sparked a number of follow-up questions.  I will try to tackle the key questions in the coming weeks.  

First up – a number of filmmakers made the claim that distributors inflate the true cost of distributing a movie, in order to keep more of the income.   

It’s worth starting with a general note that I see no evidence of wide-spread false accounting. That’s not to say that there aren’t any instances of false cost inflation, but that the heart of this claim is a scepticism that it isn’t as expensive to put a movie into cinemas as distributors claim.  So today I will quickly run through the types of costs involved in …

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How is a cinema’s box office income distributed?

Today, I’m going to tackle a couple of related topics which seem to come up frequently in reader questions and comments – how is a cinema’s box office income distributed, and how much of it ends up with the filmmakers?

On the face of it, the first question seems simple: how is box office ticket income divided?  However, it has proved an ongoing controversy, with some filmmakers claiming that cinemas keep most of it and some cinema staff claiming that they hand almost all of it over to filmmakers.  I have heard people on both sides wax lyrical about how they have the raw end of the deal.  In order to answer the question, I have been speaking to a number of people …

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What kinds of films do well at the BAFTA awards?

Next Sunday sees the glitz and glamour of the 70th annual British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) film awards, so I thought it was timely to look at the kind of films that have previously succeeded at the awards, and how BAFTA compares to other awards and major film festivals.  

I looked at all films nominated for one of the three main categories – best film, best British film and best foreign language film over the past twenty years.

What kinds of films compete for BAFTA awards?

I have previously reported on British filmmakers’ penchant for making dramas, with around a fifth of all British films made between 2001-13 having drama as one of their principal genres.  Therefore perhaps it’s not a surprise …

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The state of the UK film industry

The newspapers last week featured headlines like “UK film production break[s] records” and “Star Wars punches London film industry past light speed“.  This led to a number of people contacting me to ask if the overall message was true – is the UK film industry really doing as well as is being claimed?  

Most of the messages came from independent British filmmakers who were either sceptical at the claim that all was rosy in UK film, or who thought that the numbers were being cooked to make things look better than they are. 

The first thing to note is that I don’t doubt for a moment that the data is correct.  The BFI does a terrific job at collecting the raw data, …

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The social class of cinema audiences

In a passing comment in last week’s article on the effect of age on cinema-going, I mentioned that the same exit polls measured the social class of cinema audiences.  I asked readers to get in touch if you wanted me to share the data and a number of you did.  I don’t have a great deal of information on the topic, but what I do have is below.

The original exit poll data comes via cinema advertisers Pearl and Dean’s microsite which I matched up with UK box office figures and split by genre. In total, I was able to look at 662 movies released in UK cinemas between 2005 and 2016.   

The social class of cinema audiences

The polls use the class classification system developed by the …

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