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Indie Brit pix surge at home

Home-grown indie films take record 14% share

LONDON — Independent British films grabbed a record market share at the U.K. box office last year, thanks to pics including “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “The Inbetweeners” and “The King’s Speech.”

According to independent research from the British Film Institute, indies’ B.O. share was 14%.

Stellar results from “King’s Speech” and comedy “Inbetweeners,” which both grossed $71 million, plus $22.3 million for “Tinker Tailor” were all key drivers.

It was a good year for local cinemas generally with admissions up 1.4% year-on-year at 172 million. B.O. sat at $1.64 billion, up 5% from 2010, although some of this is attributed to the 2.5% hike in Value Added Tax, which kick in at the start of 2011.

Market share for all U.K. pics, including “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” and “Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows,” accounted for 36% of the total B.O., up from 24% in 2010.

Total investment in U.K.-based film production reached $1.99 billion, of which $1.6 billion came from international productions lensing in the country, up 3% on 2010.

While spend on film production overall was up, the total number of U.K. pics produced with budgets of £1 million ($789,000) or more fell to 71 from 78 in 2010. Some 98 pics were made for less than $789,000, bringing the total number of U.K. features produced in 2011 to 169, down on 2010’s 262 pics.

However, the number of co-productions increased by one third to 40, recording a U.K. spend of $93.1 million.

BFI CEO Amanda Nevill noted that while the results were positive overall, “it’s still a challenging time for filmmakers trying to raise finance to make independent films in this tough economic climate.”

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