WHY: With a skills base and a talent pool second only to Los Angeles, the U.K. attracts more than its share of big-budget studio tentpoles looking for quality and reliability. It’s not the cheapest overseas location in terms of upfront costs, but the U.K. tax credit offers a generous rebate — up to 20% of the budget for films under $36 million, 16% for bigger pics — so long as the movie passes the British culture test, which isn’t too hard if you are employing lots of locals. The upside is that actors’ salaries are eligible for the rebate, regardless of nationality, so long as the work is done in Britain.
According to the U.K. Film Council’s research comparing Blighty with nine rival territories, only Hungary is significantly cheaper once the tax credit is factored in. Producers avoid the expense of shipping crews and supporting cast in from elsewhere, and the high quality of the work means fewer nasty surprises when it comes to reshoots and overruns. Everyone speaks American, too, even if the accent’s a bit funny.
BONUS: If you dare to venture outside London, you can make big savings below the line: You might be able to tap regional subsidies, you will probably encounter a more friendly welcome from the natives, and you won’t have to pay through the nose for your cast to stay at the Dorchester.
SHOT THERE: “The Dark Knight” (Bedfordshire), “City of Ember” (Belfast), “Valhalla Rising” (Scotland)
HOT SPOT: F/x house Framestore shared an Oscar for its polar bear work on “The Golden Compass” and should be in the running again for this year’s “The Dark Knight.” It has also made its first CGI animated movie, “The Tale of Despereaux,” for Universal, and has started backing British indie pics as an exec producer.
U.K. Film Council: ukfilmcouncil.org
Scottish Screen: scottishscreen.com
Scottish Highland and Islands Film Commission: scotfilm.org
Film Agency for Wales: filmagencywales.com
Finance for Wales: financewales.co.uk
Wales Screen Commission: walesscreencommission.co.uk
Northern Ireland Screen: northernirelandscreen.co.uk
Screen WM: screenwm.co.uk
EM Media: em-media.org.uk
Northern Film + Media: northernmedia.org
Northwest Vision + Media: northwestvision.co.uk
Screen South: screensouth.org
Screen Yorkshire: screenyorkshire.co.uk
Screen East: screeneast.co.uk
Film London: filmlondon.org