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Film Council pushes Brit broadcasters

BBC2, Channel 4 take lead in local financing uptick

LONDON — The number of recent British films shown on the main U.K. TV webs rose by 51% in the first half of 2004, according to research by the U.K. Film Council.

But this still represents only 4.5% of all movies broadcast by the five terrestrial networks in the period, the org said.

The Film Council is campaigning for British broadcasters to play a more active role in financing and screening local movies.

“While it’s encouraging to see an increase in the number of recent British films shown on television, it’s a small improvement on a low base,” commented the org’s CEO John Woodward.

Minority webs BBC2 and Channel 4 were responsible for the lion’s share of the increase, more than doubling their output of British movies. But ITV went in the other direction, screening just one local pic, compared to six in the same period of 2003.

The Film Council also confirmed that cinema admissions have resumed their upward curve this year after a slight decline in 2003. In the current year to August, ticket sales are up 10% to 117 million, and box office is up 11% to $1.07 billion.

The top grossing British-qualifying films were all financed and distributed by Hollywood studios, including “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Troy,” “King Arthur” and a trio from Universal’s Working Title shingle — “Shaun of the Dead,” “Wimbledon” and “Thunderbirds.”

That list has been joined in the past week by the last Working Title hit, “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.”

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