2017 was a banner year for film and TV production in the U.K., with spending hitting a record £2.84 billion ($4 billion) – an 11% increase from the previous year, according to data released Wednesday by the British Film Institute.
Film production spending accounted for £1.9 billion ($2.7 billion), and TV for £938 million ($1.3 billion), the BFI said. Cinema admissions reached 171 million, and ticket revenue was up 3.7% at £1.4 billion ($2 billion).
Notably, four of the five top-grossing movies in Britain last year – “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Dunkirk” and “Paddington 2” – were made in the U.K. “Paddington 2,” “T2 Trainspotting” and “Baby Driver” were the top independent titles.
The record £1.9 billion spend on film production was a 12% hike from 2016, and includes 130 domestic British movies that accounted for £190 million ($269 million) of the overall figure. Independently produced domestic titles in 2017 include Idris Elba’s “Yardie” and Mike Leigh’s “Peterloo.” Led by “Paddington 2,” the market share of British independent films at the box office last year was 9.5%, a rise from 7.4% in 2016.
“We have a consistently growing industry, and doing so at speed,” BFI chief Amanda Nevill said, adding that the growth “creates the most potent export to showcase the U.K. and our innate creativity and is a powerful and timely reminder of the U.K. as a major global player.”
The BFI said it was also a record year for spend on inward-investment film and TV production. The film total hit £1.69 billion ($2.4 billion) for film, a 23% increase. Fueled by the government’s tax break, high-end TV production was up 27% at £684 million ($967 million).
Films in the inward-investment column in 2017 included Tim Burton’s “Dumbo,” Ron Howard’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” Guy Ritchie’s “Aladdin,” David Yates’ “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread,” Christopher McQuarrie’s “Mission: Impossible 6” and Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World.”
On the TV side, high-end international TV productions made in Britain last year included “Game of Thrones” (Season 8), “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams” and “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.”
The BFI said the quality of British talent, crews, VFX and production services, locations and supportive tax regime drove the figures.
“From ‘Star Wars’ to ‘The Crown,’ the U.K. is a creative powerhouse for developing many award-winning films and shows enjoyed by millions globally,” said Margot James, the British government’s minister for digital and the creative industries. “We have world-class studios, a talented workforce and highly competitive tax reliefs, and these fantastic stats show investment in our screen industries is booming.”
Adrian Wootton, chief executive of the British Film Commission and Film London said the U.K. is “delivering at the highest level,” but noted there is work to be done. “Global competition remains fierce and the landscape continues to shift, meaning we can’t afford to rest on our laurels when it comes to supporting our industry and the highly-skilled workforce that drives it,” he said.