Foreign shoots in Britain down 26% this year

LONDON — Co-productions in Blighty are up 50% year-on-year in the first half of 2010 while British productions and inward investment in features are down compared with the same period last year.

According to the U.K. Film Council’s research and statistics unit, 51 pics with budgets less than £500,000 ($763,000) began lensing in the U.K. in the first half of the year, compared with 60 in 2009. Of these, 29 were local features (down 21.6%) and 14 were inward investment pics (down 26%).

Co-production pics to shoot so far this year include Benjamin Ross’ “Thorne: Scaredy Cat,” Stephen Hopkins’ “Thorne: Sleepyhead” and Debs Gardner-Paterson’s “Africa United.”

Brit pics shot in the territory this year include Ealing Studios’ “Burke and Hare” and Joe Cornish’s “Attack the Block,” while inward investment pics include new installments of the “Harry Potter” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchises.

Overall spend of pics lensing in the territory fell 13% from $1.1 billion last year to $981 million, but the first half of this year is the second highest on record after the first half of 2009. These figs are largely driven by inward investment as co-production spend was at a mere $23.8 million and spend on U.K. domestic productions stood at $107.3 million.

John Woodward, CEO of the U.K. Film Council, admitted that the rise in co-productions this year came as a surprise but added that the decline in production stats in the first half of the year was reflective of the global economic downturn, combined with a decline in broadcast revenues and the fact the film industry has not properly monetized online distribution.

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