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British film business in boom

Production hits $1.64B but local spend falls

Spending on film production in the U.K. jumped 48% in 2006 to £840.1 million ($1.64 billion), thanks to Hollywood-financed movies such as “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “The Golden Compass,” “Stardust,” “Fred Claus,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “The Golden Age” and “Atonement.”

Inward investment — foreign-backed projects shooting in Blighty — made up the lion’s share of this production boom, rising by 83% to $1.11 billion.

But expenditure on indigenous British movies dropped by 11% to $290 million, although the number of such projects increased from 37 in 2005 to 50 last year.

The U.S. studios account most of the inward investment activity. The level of Hollywood spending on U.K.-based production more than doubled in 2006 to $984 million. But this was slightly mitigated by a 6% drop in U.S./U.K. co-productions to $131 million.

Co-productions under official treaties increased 35% to $240 million, including Richard Attenborough’s “Closing the Ring,” Gillian Armstrong’s “Death Defying Acts” and Julian Jarrold’s “Becoming Jane.”

“2006 was a great year for film production in the U.K.,” said John Woodward, chief exec of the U.K. Film Council. “We are back in business with British filmmakers winning international awards, a crop of great British films produced, (and) British talent and facilities in demand from filmmakers around the world.

“The new tax credit, which came into force this year, will ensure that the U.K. stays one of the best places in the world to produce a film.”

Film minister Shaun Woodward said, “Two Potters — Harry and Beatrix — a golden compass and a bit of stardust have helped the U.K.’s film industry have one of its best years ever.”

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