LONDON — Investment in British film production slumped 30% to £807.9 million ($1.51 billion) in 2004, with the number of movies down 24% to 132.
The U.K. Film Council figures reflect the impact of the government’s clampdowns on tax-driven financing.
The crash comes after the boom of 2003, when tax incentives drove local production to record highs. But the volume and value of production in 2004 was higher than in any previous year save ’03 thanks to the latest instalment in the Harry Potter franchise “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and Keira Knightley starrer “Pride and Prejudice.”
That prompted a positive spin from British film commissioner Steve Norris, head of the council’s international department.
“Whilst lower than the record film production spending of 2003, 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, continued to attract a huge amount of international production in 2004,” he said.
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There are already fears, however, that 2005 will see a further decline, thanks to a weakening dollar, the effects of the government’s latest tax crackdown in December and the continuing uncertainty about the future of Blighty tax breaks.
The worst hit sector in 2004 was what the Film Council defines as domestic U.K. features — films made with local finance, rather than foreign movies or co-productions shot in Blighty.
The number of domestic Brit pics dropped 39% to 27 in 2004, with investment down a dramatic 56% to $221 million.
The reduction is the “product of a number of factors, including the long-term trend towards co-production of films in more than one country. And changes to financing arrangements during the year undoubtedly had an effect,” commented Norris.
The number of foreign films from a single country (primarily the U.S.) held steady at 17, with investment rising 16% to $893 million. But foreign-led co-productions slumped from 13 in 2003 to just three last year, with investment down 78% to $134 million.
U.K.-led co-productions declined a modest 14% to 85, with investment down 11% to $265 million.