U.K. spending falls

But homegrown investment up in '05

Film production spending in the U.K. fell 31% last year to £560 million ($989 million) as the strong pound and the clampdown on tax breaks made Britain a less attractive location for foreign producers.

Yet investment in homegrown Brit pics increased by 36% to $282 million.

In all, 123 movies were shot last year, down from 132 in 2004. But local productions increased to 37 from 27, according to figures published by the U.K. Film Council.

High-profile local productions included “Stormbreaker,” “Notes From a Scandal” and “Breaking and Entering.”

Latter two were primarily bankrolled by U.S. studios — Fox and Miramax, respectively — but are classified as domestic because they were made by British companies.

The biggest foreign films shot in the U.K. included “The Da Vinci Code,” “Children of Men” and “Basic Instinct 2.”

The U.K. Film Council classifies these as “inward feature films” from a single country. There were 19 of those last year with a total investment of $426 million.

Also, there were six “inward co-productions,” including “V for Vendetta” and “Young Hannibal,” spending $126 million in the U.K.

Aside from the 37 domestic films, there were 61 co-productions originated by local companies, with a British spend of $155 million.

Meanwhile, British films took a 34% share of the U.K. box office in 2005 — the highest figure since records began a decade ago, and a long time before that as well — thanks to the impact of pics made in the U.K. by Hollywood studios, including “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.”

The performance of these films was the principal reason why the U.K. posted a 1% rise in overall box office while most other major territories saw their takings fall in 2005.

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