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Saturday, April 13, 2013

2011 UK Cinema report: key facts

Each year the BFI (British Film Institute, who have taken over duties from the UKFC) publishes a report on the UK film industry, highlighting trends and changes: the share of UK productions v US-backed UK productions v Hollywood imports; the share for Indies; the box office % for 3D; the rise of digital production etc, and more.

Below, I pick out the key points and include analysis (+ further links/quotes) to help you include this in your exam prep. There's a full list of definitions at the very end, but this one is especially useful: A UK film is a film that has been certified as British by the DCMS or by the Certification Unit of the BFI (acting on the authority of the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics Media and Sport) or which is a de facto UK film by virtue of being made in whole or part in the UK by a UK production company. You can see from this that the definition of a British film, as far as the government is concerned, includes basically US films which are partially shot in the UK. Both Warp and WT are treated as British companies, despite WT being majority-owned (67%) by NBC-Universal
Here's some links to their latest reports:

Statistical Yearbook 11

The 2011 Statistical Yearbook offers the most comprehensive and accessible picture of film anywhere in the UK
New reports
Statistical Yearbook Archive
Our Publications A-Z contains a pdf archive of all of our Statistical Yearbooks to date:


The points/data below are taken from Film production in the UK - full year 2011 report (76KB, PDF), 31 January 2012 - I've also added some further analysis and links.
  • Admissions (the number of tickets sold) rose to 171.6m
  • the total box office from this was £1.4bn, up 5% from 2010, with Indie hits The King's Speech and The Inbetweeners Movie a key factor: both took over £45m  making them the biggest UK Indie hits ever
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 became the 3rd biggest UK hit of all time with £73m after Avatar and Toy Story 3
  • there were 6 movies over £30m (compare that to the US where many of the top 10 in a typical week will have exceeded that), the above + Pir.Carbn: On Stranger Tides; The Hangover 2; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. Its unusual for big 6 flicks not to take the top spots!
  • the surprise £23m success of Bridesmaids showed the strength of female-centred movies [DB: prospects for a 3rd BJD movie look good right now]
  • WT's biggest UK hit was #12: the £20.6m (1 of 13 in UK to top £20m) Johnny English Reborn (its final total is higher still, as it overlaps with the 2011 figures), tho' parent company Universal also had #9 Bridesmaids and #14 Fast and Furious 5
  • WT also had #12 in 2010 with Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (£16.53m) - this shows the importance of franchises to film producers and distributors; again, with BJD3 imminent this trend is not going away
  • over the past decade UK films account for 24% of UK box office, but 18% of this is US-financed productions; only 5.5% of UK box office came from UK Indies - that average was doubled to 13.5% in 2011
  • WT are classed as a UK Indie, which suggests that the genuine % for actual Indies is much, much lower! Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was the 3rd biggest 'UK Indie' hit of 2011. Warp X made it into this chart, #14 with the brilliant Submarine (£1.46m); Four Lions was 5th biggest Indie hit in 2010. Only 5 'UK Indie' releases earned over £5m in 2011, again showing why their releases rarely exceed £5m in budget
  • The Harry Potter sequel took 48% of its money from 3D screenings. There were nearly twice as many 3D films as in 2010, 3 times as many as 2009 ... BUT, perhaps the 3D bubble is finally bursting? In 2010 3D took 24% of UK box office, this was down to 20% in 2011. More and more '2D-to-3D conversions' (where software is used to reprocess films not shot in 3D into 3D) are being released, and perhaps the novelty is wearing off - maybe Avatar will prove the absolute peak of 3D? While you can still double ticket prices, though, 3D will remain a tempting proposition: right now a 3D conversion of The Phantom Menace is doing well worldwide, and Titanic is soon to be re-released as 3D as well. We've yet to see any WT 3D (and its far too expensive for Warp to consider). Cinemas have been desparate to compete with the growing trend of home cinema, expensive large-screen/surround-sound living room set-ups that many people now use in preference to cinema, with its (sorry, but its true!) noisy teens, over-priced tickets and horrid food:
Cinemas are obliged to split money from ticket sales with the film studios, but get to keep almost all the cash they make from selling food. That means that the "concessions" (popcorn, sweets and the like) make up 20% of a cinema's revenue but 40% of its profits. A box of popcorn is around 85% profit to the cinema, and salty foods of course encourage people to buy more soft drinks, increasing receipts further. "Without the hefty concession profits," declared an article in Time a few years ago, "there would be no movie theater business". (http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/mar/07/cinema-snacks-a-view-to-a-killing)
see also prev posts on 3D/digitisation:

  • Despite the apparent promise of digitisation to open up the film industry to low and micro-budget productions, with reduced distribution costs also helping, the number of films produced in the UK in 2011 actually fell from 322 (2010) to 237. In 2010 there were 184 UK films made for under £500k, in 2011 just half that at 98, again, not what we expect from the benefits of digitisation. Will the closure of the UKFC further damage the prospects of low-budget UK Indie releases in 2012? The total spend (all the budgets added up) actually increased slightly, to £1.26bn, though most of this was US money.  

The terms used by BFI:

A UK film is a film that has been certified as British by the DCMS or by the Certification Unit of the BFI (acting on the authority of the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics Media and Sport) or which is a de facto UK film by virtue of being made in whole or part in the UK by a UK production company.
A US studio film is a film that is produced in whole or part by one of the major US studios or one of the major US studios’ specialist subsidiaries.
An independent film is a film made by an independent production company or group of independent production companies.
US studio films are generally distributed in most territories by the parent studio. Independent films are usually distributed by different distributors in different territories. 
[Source: The UK box office in 2011 (112KB, PDF), 31 January 2012]

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