BFI statistics for 2019 show film and high-end TV generates £30% uplift for UK economy

The stats also indicate that UK qualifying independent films deliver the highest box office market share for five years.

The Favourite (2018)

The Favourite (2018)

Official figures published today by the BFI’s Research and Statistics Unit reveal the highest spend ever on film and high-end television production in the UK in 2019. This includes high levels of international production investment underlining the UK’s global reputation as the world-leading centre for film and TV production, sustained strong admissions and box office for film in the cinema and box office growth in the market share for independent UK films.

Cinema audiences flocked to see a combination of blockbuster films led by Avengers: Endgame and The Lion King to independent UK films such as Downton Abbey, The Favourite and Yesterday, generating a strong year at the UK and Republic of Ireland box office. 

The market share of independent UK films at the box office in 2019 was 13%, an increase from 11.7% in 2018. When UK-made, studio-backed films are added to the picture, eg Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Aladdin, Dumbo and Rocketman, the full UK market share increases to 46%, the highest since records began.

Collectively, films released in 2019 attracted 176 million admissions, a minimal 0.6% decrease on 2018, but still the second biggest year by admissions for 49 years. Total box office revenue for all films released was £1.254 billion, just 2% down on last year.

The spend on high-end television and film production in the UK in 2019 reached £3.62 billion, a 16% increase on 2018. This is the highest year on record, showing the UK to be the world’s busiest production hub and demonstrating the continued world-class excellence of UK talent, crews, VFX and production services, locations and the supportive fiscal environment created by the UK’s creative sector tax reliefs. These factors play a vital role in attracting inward investment to the UK, and benefitting the UK film economy with 2019 inward investment across film and high television topping £3 billion for the first time.

Film co-production in the UK also saw a 37% uplift in spend with £34 million across 23 productions generated by films including Phyllida Lloyd’s Herself, Viggo Mortensen’s Falling, Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, Uberto Pasolini’s Nowhere Special, Ben Lewin’s Falling For Figaro, James D’Arcy’s Made In Italy, Florian Zeller’s The Father, Liam O’Donnell’s Skylines and Lina Roessler’s Best Sellers.

Inward investment production comes to the UK from a number of different countries. The inward investment data also reveals a notable influx of 29 Indian productions being made in the UK with a collective spend of £112 million, including Mysskin’s Thupparivaalan 2, Amarjit Singh’s Jhalle, Sharan Art’s Galwakdi and Amrit Raj Chadha’s Parauhneya Nu Dafa Karo.

Domestic film and high-end television production generated a production spend of £546.4 million, a decrease of 28% from 2018. Within this figure, domestic film showed a greater drop in spend with £174.7 million, reflecting a decrease of 45% and demonstrating a shifting industry eco-system for domestic production. However, this picture doesn’t reflect the fact that films being made by home-grown are attracting international finance and are therefore classified inward investment, eg Sam Mendes’s 1917 and Andy Serkis’s Venom 2. For domestic high-end television production, the spend of £371.7 million represented a decrease of 14% on 2018.

Films made in the UK in 2019 for release in 2020/2021 includes inward investment films such as Cary Joji Fukanaga’s No Time To Die, Cate Shortland’s Black Widow, Sam Mendes’s 1917, Craig Gillespie’s Cruella, Antoine Fuqua’s Infinite, Andy Serkis’s Venom 2, George Clooney’s Good Morning, Midnight, Tim Story’s Tom and Jerry, Daniel Espinosa’s Mobius, Robert Zemeckis’s The Witches, Chloe Zhao’s The Eternals, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, Will Sharpe’s Louis Wain, Danis Tanovic’s The Postcard Killings, John Madden’s Operation Mincemeat and Tanya Wexler’s Jolt.

Domestic UK (independent) productions included Francis Lee’s Ammonite, Euros Lyn’s Dream Horse, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir 2, Kevin Macdonald’s Prisoner 760, Clio Barnard’s Ali & Ava, Barnaby Thompson’s Pixie, Josie Rourke’s This Nan’s Life, Andrew ‘Rapman’ Onwubolu’s Blue Story, Aleem Khan’s After Love, Peter Jackson’s Jamboree Jam, Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s Chasing Chaplin, Aneil Karia’s Surge, Charles Martin Smith’s A Gift From Bob, Edgar Wright’s Last Night In Soho and Autumn de Wilde’s Emma.

The growth in volume of high-end television productions in 2019 included inward investment and co-productions such as Jon East’s Cursed, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Old Guard, The Crown (series 4), Lenny Abrahamson’s Normal People, Andrew Haigh’s The North Water, Michaela Coel’s Jan 22nd, Armando Iannucci’s Avenue 5, Lena Dunham’s Industry, Tom Hooper’s His Dark Materials (series 2), David Moore’s Outlander (series 5), Owen Harris’s Brave New World, Ben Wheatley’s Rebecca, Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s Black Narcissus, Tom Shankland’s The Serpent, Julie Ann Robinson’s Bridgetron, The Spanish Princess (season 2) and The End of the F***ing World (series 2).

Domestic high-end television productions included Aisling Walsh’s Elizabeth is Missing, Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy, Hans Herbots’ Cobra, Christine Gernon’s Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special, Penny Woolcock’s Ackley Bridge (series 3), Claire McCarthy Domina, Chloe Thomas’s The Deceived, Stewart Svaasand’s Tin Star (series 3), Claire McCarthy’s Domina, Robert Quinn’s The Bay (series 2), Rebecca Gatward and Mary Nighy’s Traces, Mackenzie Crook’s Worzel Gummidge, Lynsey Miller’s Deadwater Fell and Kieron Hawkes’s Intergalactic.

Film and high-end television production generates local business activity and jobs: Dream Horse (south Wales); In Sickness, A Discovery of Witches, Brave New World, Industry (Wales); 1917 (Glasgow, south-west England); She Will, Shepherd, Shiddat, Wise Blood, Year of the Rabbit (Scotland), No Time To Die (Highlands, south-west England); The Nest (Glasgow); Deadwater Fell (Ayrshire); Pixie, Here Before, Nowhere Special, Black Medicine, The Deceived (Northern Ireland); Sandition, War of the Worlds, The Spanish Princess (south-west England); The Crown, Eurovision, His Dark Materials, Good Morning, Midnight, Honour (south-east England); Supernova, World on Fire, Cobra (north-west England); Fast & Furious 9, Black Widow (south-east England); Cruella, Grantchester (east of England); Enola Holmes, Galwakdi, Good Luck Jatta, Hello Jindagi (West Midlands); Intergalactic (East Midlands); Censor  (Leeds); Ali and Ava, All Creatures Great And Small, The English Game, (Bradford); Pagalpanti, The English Game (Skipton); Everyone’s Talking About Jamie (Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham); The Souvenir 2 (Norfolk); Ammonite (Dorset, London); Sweetheart (Dorset); and After Love (Kent, London) are just a few examples.

Nigel Adams, Minister for Creative Industries, said: “These latest figures show that our world-leading screen industries continue to thrive, attracting audiences all around the globe. The increase in inward investment reflects the UK’s acclaimed reputation as a home for fantastic talent and creativity in our film and television sectors.”

Amanda Nevill CBE, CEO of the BFI, said: “Today’s figures show an incredibly vibrant picture, a sector that continues to grow, delivering billions to the economy and a wide spectrum of jobs all over the UK. It’s great to see some of our greatest home-grown talent making big international pictures such as 1917. It also underlines the importance of ensuring that the independent sector, the lifeblood for this growing success, is properly supported.”
Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive of the British Film Commission and Film London, said: “

Yearly statistics in detail

Film production in 2019

The year saw 188 feature films go into production with an interim total spend of £1.951 billion, a 6% increase on the previous year and the second highest recorded level of production spend. Consolidated volume and spend figures for 2019 will be published later this year as production reporting is updated.  

Of the 188 films which went into production in 2019, 94 were domestic UK films with a total interim spend of £174.7 million, representing a 46% decrease in the number of films and 45% decrease in spend from £318.7 million last year.  Independently produced domestic titles in 2019 included Francis Lee’s Ammonite, Euros Lyn’s Dream Horse, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir 2, Kevin Macdonald’s Prisoner 760, Clio Barnard’s Ali & Ava, Barnaby Thompson’s Pixie, Andrew ‘Rapman’ Onwubolu’s Blue Story, Josie Rourke’s This Nan’s Life, Aleem Khan’s After Love, Philippe Martinez’s Shooting Paul, Peter Jackson’s Jamboree Jam, Gillies MacKinnon’s The Last Bus, Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s Chasing Chaplin, Aneil Karia’s Surge, Charles Martin Smith’s A Gift From Bob, Edgar Wright’s Last Night In Soho and Autumn de Wilde’s Emma.

2019 saw £1.747 billion being spent by 71 major inward investment films on production in the UK, a significant uplift of 17% on the previous year’s spend, and accounting for 89% of the total spend on film production in the UK over the year. 21 studio-backed films accounted for 71% of the total spend on all production

1917 (2019)

1917 (2019)

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Inward investment films made in the UK during 2018 include Sam Mendes’s 1917, Cary Joji Fukanaga’s No Time To Die, Cate Shortland’s Black Widow, Antoine Fuqua’s Infinite, Craig Gillespie’s Cruella, Andy Serkis’s Venom 2, George Clooney’s Good Morning, Midnight, Tim Story’s Tom and Jerry, Daniel Espinosa’s Mobius, Robert Zemeckis’s The Witches, Chloe Zhao’s The Eternals, Guy Ritchie’s Cash Truck, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile, Will Sharpe’s Louis Wain, Danis Tanovic’s The Postcard Killings, Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman; The Great Game, John Madden’s Operation Mincemeat and Tanya Wexler’s Jolt.

The inward investment data also reveals a notable influx of 29 Indian productions being made in the UK with a collective spend of £103.3 million including Mysskin’s Thupparivaalan 2, Amarjit Singh’s Jhalle, Sharan Art’s Galwakdi and Amrit Raj Chadha’s Parauhneya Nu Dafa Karo.

There were 23 UK co-productions going into production in 2018 with spend of £34.2 million compared to the interim spend in 2018 of £25.0 million. Co-productions included Phyllida Lloyd’s Herself, Viggo Mortensen’s Falling, Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, Uberto Pasolini’s Nowhere Special, Ben Lewin’s Falling For Figaro, James D’Arcy’s Made In Italy, Florian Zeller’s The Father, Liam O’Donnell’s Skylines and Lina Roessler’s Best Sellers.

High-end TV production in 2019

2019 has seen a significant boost in high-end television productions made in the UK with an interim spend of £1.665 billion across 123 productions; an increase of 29% on 2018’s consolidated spend of £1.287 billion and also the highest level of spend since the introduction of tax relief. 

Of the 123 high-end TV titles, 49 were domestic UK productions with spend of £371.1 million, a 14% increase from the consolidated spend of £433.3 million in 2017. Domestic UK high-end TV titles include Aisling Walsh’s Elizabeth is Missing, Christine Gernon’s Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special, Richard Laxton’s Honour, Juliet May’s Motherland (series 2), Mackenzie Crook’s Worzel Gummidge, Emma Fraser’s Eden, Stella Corradi’s Sitting In Limbo, Chloe Thomas’s The Deceived, Robbie McKillop’s Guilt, Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy, Lynsey Miller’s Deadwater Fell, Rebecca Gatward and Mary Nighy’s Traces, Andy de Emmony’s The Nest, Penny Woolcock’s Ackley Bridge (series 3), Claire McCarthy Domina, John Strickland’s Line of Duty (series 5), Hans Herbots’ Cobra, Farren Blackburn’s A Discovery of Witches and Kieron Hawkes’s Intergalactic.

The 74 inward investment and co-production high-end TV productions crashed through the £1 billion marker with an interim spend of £1.293 billion, a record spend and an increase of 51% on 2018. High-end international TV productions made in the UK last year include Jon East’s Cursed, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Old Guard, The Crown (series 4), Lenny Abrahamson’s Normal People, Andrew Haigh’s The North Water, Armando Iannucci’s Avenue 5, Tom Hooper’s His Dark Materials (series 2),Terry McDonagh’s Killing Eve (series3), Outlander (series 5), Nick Murphy’s A Christmas Carol, Ben Wheatley’s Rebecca, Lena Dunham’s Industry, Michaela Coel’s Jan 22nd, Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s Black Narcissus, Owen Harris’s Brave New World, Julie Ann Robinson’s Bridgetron, Joss Whedon’s The Nevers, David Dobkin’s Eurovision, The Spanish Princess (season 2) and Lucy Forbes and Destiny Ekaragha’s The End of the F***ing World (series 2)

Animation television programme production in 2019

At the time of reporting, 23 animation television programmes went into production in the UK in 2019, with a spend of £39.3 million. Of these, 16 were domestic UK productions and 7 were inward investment or co-productions. However, there is a significant time-lag with animation data with fuller reporting later this year.

Animation programmes that went into production in 2018 include Pinkalicious & Pteriffic (series 2), Bear Grylls Young Adventures, Alva and the Trolls, Love Monster and Dog Loves Books.

The UK spend and number of productions data reported are treated as interim results and are consolidated later in the year as final reporting is received.

Box office in 2019

The total box office for all films released was £1.254 billion, just 2% down on last year. Leading the box office was Avengers: Endgame, which took over £88.7 million, followed by The Lion King (£76.0 million), Toy Story 4 (£66.2 million), Joker (£58.0 million) and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (£54.9 million). Ten of the year’s top 20 performing films at the UK box office were UK/USA productions being made in the UK (including Last Christmas which was developed with BFI National Lottery funding) using the UK’s facilities, talent, crew and locations, again demonstrating the strength of the UK as a global production hub, making films that export worldwide.

The top grossing UK qualifying independent films were Downton Abbey, The Favourite, Yesterday, Stan & Ollie and Mary Queen of Scots. The top 20 reflects the diversity of theme and story explored in independent filmmaking including strong and influential women (The Favourite, Mary Queen of Scots, Colette); animation (Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon); contemporary life/coming of age (Blue Story, Fighting With My Family, Blinded By The Light); musical drama (Judy, Yesterday, Fisherman’s Friends, Wild Rose); political/espionage (Red Joan, Official Secrets); action adventure (Angel Has Fallen, The Kid Who Would Be King); and young audiences (Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans). Two films – Stan & Ollie and Wild Rose – were produced by Fable Pictures and both played at the BFI London Film Festival.

The market share of independent UK films at the box office in 2019 was 13%, an increase from 11.7% in 2018. When UK-made, studio-backed films are added to the picture, eg Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Aladdin, Dumbo and Rocketman, the full UK market share increases to 46%, the highest since records began.

BFI Stats at a glance

  • Film and high-end television production spend in the UK over £3.6 billion, an increase of 16% and the highest on record: 
  • Film production reaches £1.956 billion, a 7% increase on 2018 and second highest level on record
  • High-end TV production tops £1.66 billion, a 29% increase on 2018 and highest level since the introduction of the tax relief (2013)
  • Inward investment and co-production spend on film and high-end television in the UK reaches £3.075 billion:
  • £1.747 billion on feature films, a 17% increase on 2018
  • £1.294 billion spent on high-end TV production, a 51% increase on 2018
  • Film co-production spend of £34 million is a 37% increase on 2018
  • UK domestic (independent) film production spend of £175 million shows a 45% decrease on 2018; domestic high-end television production spend of £371.7 million shows a 14% decrease
  • Strong box office for UK independent productions delivers highest market share for five years at 13%, led by Downton Abbey (£28.2 million), The Favourite (£17.0 million), Yesterday (£13.8 million) and Stan & Ollie (£10.6 million)
  • Three of 2019’s top five grossing films at the UK box office were made in the UK: Avengers: Endgame (£88.7 million), The Lion King (£76.0 million) and Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker (£54.9 million)
  • Consistent performance for film at the cinema with 176 million cinema admissions worth £1.254 billion 

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