Pic biz booming in Blighty

Number of movies rose nearly 50% to 177

LONDON — The U.K. enjoyed an unprecedented boom in film production during 2003, with total investment more than doubling to £1.17 billion ($2.16 billion), an all-time record.

The number of movies rose nearly 50% to 177. That includes British films, Hollywood movies shot in Britain, and international co-productions either made in the U.K. or shot abroad with substantial British involvement.

The number of foreign productions or co-productions rose to 30 from 16 in 2002, with their combined budgets reaching $1.35 billion, up from $491 million the previous year.

Big Hollywood pics and co-productions contributing to this leap included “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Phantom Of The Opera,” “Alexander,” “Troy,” the “Alfie” remake, “Sahara,” “King Arthur,” “Brothers Grimm” and “Around The World In 80 Days.”

The number of British films also rose to 45 from 37 in 2002, but there was a much bigger increase in budgets, with total investment in Brit pics rising 77% to $513 million. This was led by Working Title projects such as “Thunderbirds,” “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” and “Wimbledon.”

British Film Commissioner Steve Norris commented, “These figures show that the wealth of talent in the U.K. film industry, together with our outstanding studios and facilities and our fiscal incentives, reaped record creative and economic rewards in 2003.”

“The U.K. continues to be recognized by international filmmakers as one of the best places in the world to make a film,” he said.

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