2008 spend was $806 million for 111 films

U.K. film production spend was down 23% in 2008 despite record receipts at the B.O. powered by pics with significant British involvement.

Figures released Tuesday by public sector funding org the U.K. Film Council show that the production spend in the U.K. on 111 pics with a budget above £500,000 ($700,000) totaled £578.2 million ($806 million).

That’s down substantially on 2007’s $1.02 billion for 126 features.

The U.K. Film Council broke the figures down into three categories: indigenous pics made by a Blighty-based production company shot wholly or partly in the U.K.; inward investment pics with big budgets financed with overseas coin but shot wholly or partly in the U.K.; and co-productions.

While spending on indigenous films was up 21.5% on 2007 to $268 million, the expenditure on inward investment projects fell 35% to $471 million and spending on co-productions was down from $100 million to $67 million in 2008.

“It has undoubtedly been a tougher year for inward investment because of the exchange rate, the effects of the U.S. writers strike and actors’ dispute, plus increased incentives now offered in more than 30 U.S. states,” said U.K. Film Council chief exec John Woodward. “While these effects were felt the world over, the U.K. tax credit has remained absolutely vital in keeping us competitive.”

The U.K. tax credit provides an incentive for production spending in the U.K. but it means co-productions aren’t likely to increase in 2009. There is, however, hope of resurgence in inward investment.

A clutch of big-budget pics are skedded to lense this year in the U.K. including Jack Black starrer “Gulliver’s Travels” for Fox, Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and helmer Ridley Scott’s “Nottingham,” starring Russell Crowe.

The forecast for indie Brit films is less positive; raising production coin from private sources such as banks is likely to be challenging in the current economic climate.

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