“Strong signs of recovery” for UK film and high-end TV production

The Witcher

The UK film and high-end TV (HETV) production sector is showing “strong signs of economic recovery” according to the British Film Institute (BFI), with a 2020 spend of £2.84bn ($3.89bn).

Figures published by the BFI’s Research and Statistics Unit show that despite five to six months of disrupted production schedules, overall spend was down just 21% from 2019.

Record-breaking Q4

BFI reports that inward investment and co-production films and HETV shows have delivered 76% of the production spend. Furthermore, a £1.19bn spend was recorded in the final quarter of 2020; 38% higher than the previous three months and the second highest quarterly result on record.

Breaking the figures down on the TV side, the BFI reported that the spend on HETV production in the UK in 2020 was £1.49bn, just 11% lower than the £1.67bn reported for 2019 (updated mid-year to £2.09bn)

The report highlighted inward investment was seen on HETV productions such as Netflix drama Anatomy Of A Scandal and season two of its fantasy series The Witcher, upcoming Disney+ series Andor and Starz show Becoming Elizabeth.

Domestic HETV productions, meanwhile, accounted for £357m, only 4% less than the £372m for 2019 (updated mid-year to £482m).

Animation adding up

The spend on animated production in the UK in 2020 was reported as £61m, which is 55% higher than the total in January 2019 (later updated to £65.3m). Of the total spend, £16.2m or 26% was generated by domestic productions and £44.8m or 74% by inward investment and co-production programmes.

“These impressive figures show the resilience and creativity of the UK screen industries,” said Oliver Dowden, UK culture secretary, who suggested that the government’s Film and TV Restart Scheme and £1.5bn Cultural Recovery Fund had helped to get UK screen industries “firing on all cylinders again.”

“After an unbelievably tough year, today’s figures show an incredibly vibrant and positive picture for film and TV in the UK,” said Ben Roberts, BFI chief executive. “Last spring it was hard to imagine that we would be generating £1bn worth of production activity in the final quarter, which has been achieved by industry and government pulling together and the determination of our workforce to get back up and running.”

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