London shoots up 18% while U.K. prod’n falls

Westminster, Richmond most popular boroughs

The number of shooting days for film, TV and commercials in London rose 18% to 12,655 in 2005 over a year earlier, according to government org Film London.

Uptick is the second year in a row, but Film London doesn’t break down the figures so it’s impossible to tell which arm of the industry contributed to the hike.However, total film production spending in the U.K. dropped £810.3 million ($1.45 billion) in 2004 to $1 billion in 2005 — a slide of 31%.

But despite tax break uncertainties and the strong pound, a raft of big-budget pics shot in the U.K. last year, including “V for Vendetta,” “Stormbreaker,” “The Da Vinci Code” and “Basic Instinct 2.”

Westminster in central London attracts the most filming of the city’s 33 boroughs with 2,231 days. The leafy borough of Richmond saw a 148% upsurge in filming, including features “Alien Autopsy,” “I Could Never Be Your Woman” and “Amazing Grace.”

“The capital’s unique mix of locations, studios, post-production facilities and world-class talent provide an unrivaled asset to filmmakers,” said Film London CEO Adrian Wootton.

Lining up to shoot in London this year are Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s $8 million “Hot Fuzz”; Shekhar Kapur’s “Elizabeth” sequel “The Golden Age”; Matthew Vaughn’s $88.5 million fantasy “Stardust”; Sarah Gavron’s “Seven Seas”; Christina Ricci and Reese Witherspoon starrer “Penelope”; and Anand Tucker’s $150 million “The Golden Compass,” the first in a trilogy based on Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials.”

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