LONDON — Figures for U.K. production in 2007 have revealed the extent of the damage by the U.S. writers’ strike to the British film economy.
With the postponement of big-budget pics “Angels and Demons” and “Bond 22,” no major Hollywood movies started production in the U.K. during the final quarter of the year. As a result, inward investment dropped 13.9% for the year as a whole to £508 million ($994 million).
That’s a major reverse from the first nine months of 2007, when inward investment was actually up 31%.
Total U.K. production in 2007 was down 15% to $1.42 billion, after a record high the previous year. However, that’s still 36% ahead of the 2005 total.
There were 112 feature films produced in the U.K. last year, compared with 135 in 2006.
That drop in volume was largely due to a collapse in co-production, down from 53 films in 2006 to just 28 last year. Co-production expenditure fell 34% to $144.4 million. This was caused by the introduction of the U.K.’s new film tax credit, which makes co-production less financially attractive.
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The number of wholly British films produced in 2007 actually increased to 58, from 54 the previous year. But expenditure on those movies dropped 8% to $276 million as budgets were squeezed.
The number of “inward investment” films — primarily studio movies shooting in the U.K., such as “Dark Knight,” “Sweeney Todd,” “The Young Victoria” and “Harry Potter and Half-Blood Prince” — fell to 26, down from 28 in 2006.
Nonetheless, the overall picture for 2007 was far more robust than many people predicted at the start of the year, when the weak dollar and the transition to the new tax credit were expected to cause a major slowdown in U.K. production activity.
“2007 was a strong year for film production in the U.K. and infinitely better than everyone was predicted this time last year,” commented John Woodward, chief exec of the U.K. Film Council, which compiled the figures.
“There is clear evidence in these statistics that yet again the U.K. has shown its strength by making both the bigger-budget commercial films alongside smaller equally powerful films, which challenge and inspire audiences and win awards all over the world,” he added.
There was better news at the box office, where British films took a 28% share of the gross in 2007, the third-highest figure in the past 12 years. That was largely due to films financed by the U.S. studios, such as “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “The Golden Compass.”
Box office was up 8% overall to $1.77 billion.