New BFI statistics show robust year for film in the UK in 2016

Rogue One and Fantastic Beasts lead the box office in a year that spend on film production in the UK reaches £1.6bn – the highest ever recorded.

Rogue One (2016)

Rogue One (2016)

Independent figures published today by the BFI show a robust performance from the UK film industry in 2016, which further increased its global reputation as a leading destination for film and TV production and saw UK cinemas enjoy another successful year.

The strong UK box office in 2016 was led by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story with takings of £64.3m, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them with £54.3m and Bridget Jones’ Baby with £48.2m. All three of the top earners were also made in the UK using UK crews, locations and facilities, helping to generate an overall market share of 27.5% of the UK box office for studio-backed, UK-made films. The leading independent UK films at the box office in 2016 were Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie with £16m, and Eddie the Eagle and Dad’s Army with £8.7m apiece, with UK independent films achieving a 7.4% share of the overall UK box office.

The spend on film production in the UK reached the highest level on record with £1.6bn, a 13% increase on the previous year, with £1.35bn being spent by major inward investment films including Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and Zack Snyder’s superhero Justice League, demonstrating the continued high international regard held for UK crews, VFX and production services, locations and the supportive fiscal environment created by the UK’s creative sector tax reliefs.   

Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said: 

“If like me you love film, you’ll love this news of record breaking levels of UK production. These record-breaking production statistics demonstrate that the UK’s world-leading film sector continues to thrive and that Britain remains open for business. With inward investment levels for film and television at new highs, we will continue to build on this tremendous success, forging a global Britain that remains the centre for attracting and developing the world’s best creative talent.”

Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI comments:

“With film production reaching £1.6bn for the first time, today’s statistics show that UK film is open for business and our position as a global leader for film and TV production is stronger than ever. Quintessentially British stories from leading British talent, such as Bridget Jones’s Baby, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and The Crown, are generating investment, creating jobs and winning audiences at home and across the globe. Nevertheless, as set out in our five year strategy BFI2022, there is much to be done to ensure British independent films are able to better capitalise on opportunities in this economically and creatively buoyant environment.”

Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of the British Film Commission and Film London, said:

“These most recent inward investment figures demonstrate just what a significant contribution our film and TV industries continue to make to the UK economy. We have earned a reputation as one of the best places in the world to make film and TV, with hit international productions including Game of Thrones, Star Wars and Transformers making Great Britain their base of operations in 2016. This is thanks to our unique combination of skills, talent, services and infrastructure, all of which are underpinned by the UK’s generous and reliable tax reliefs. While we’re obviously delighted to see such record-breaking figures, we also know that if this success is to be sustainable we can’t afford to rest on our laurels – that’s why we’re working with our peers across industry and government to ensure the UK remains a competitive destination and a compelling offer for international production.” 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Film and TV production in 2016

The year saw continued growth in the UK’s production sector, with total spend on film production in the UK topping £1.6bn, a 13% increase on the previous year and the highest figure since our records began 20 years ago, and the year also saw all records smashed for inward investment to the UK from film and TV production.

The strength of the UK’s production sector is testament to the continuing appeal of UK studios, facilities, locations, crews, support from the British Film Commission and the supportive fiscal environment created by the government’s UK film tax relief.  This winning combination has helped to cement the UK’s reputation as the global destination of choice for film and TV production, demonstrated in 2016 by the highest ever recorded inward investment to the UK from the production of films and high-end TV.

The year saw £1.35bn being spent by 48 major inward investment films basing themselves in the UK – up almost 18% from 2015’s £1.147bn. Inward investment films made in the UK during 2016 included Disney’s Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, Ridley Scott’s Alien Covenant, Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express, Lasse Hallstrom’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and Paddington 2. There was also significant growth in spend from international high-end television production in 2016, with 36 television productions generating a UK spend of £477.8m – up 11% from £430.3m in 2014. Programmes made in the UK in 2016 include the second series of the hugely successful The Crown, the seventh series of Games of Thrones, Fortitude, The White Princess and the third series of Outlander.

​The Crown (2016–)

​The Crown (2016–)

There were 129 domestic UK films made in the UK in 2016, between them spending £206m, a drop of £8% on 2015’s total of £223m. Independently produced domestic titles in 2016 included Clio Barnard’s Dark River, Andy Serkis’s Breathe, Gurinder Chadha’s Viceroy’s House, Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour, Asif Kapadia’s Diego, Paddy Considine’s Journeyman, Stephen Frears’s Victoria and Abdul, Saul Dibb’s Journey’s End, God’s Own Country, Andy Nyman’s Ghost Stories and Kevin Macdonald’s Whitney Houston Biopic.

Owing to the lower budget nature of many independent UK domestic titles, which offer creative freedom to exciting UK filmmakers, there is often a time-lag in data collection so the total number of films and UK production spend will likely be revised upwards as more information is received. The January 2015 statistics release recorded 124 domestic UK titles; this figure rose to 199 as more data were received – a trend likely to be repeated this year.

There were 23 UK co-productions commencing production in 2016, between them spending £41.3m in the UK, down from £44.8m in 2014.

Box office in 2016

A line-up of highly anticipated blockbuster films released in 2016 helped drive solid box office receipts for UK cinemas, which at £1.227bn enjoyed their second most successful year on record. The year’s leading films included Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (£64.3m), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (£54.3m), Bridget Jones’s Baby (£48.2m), and The Jungle Book (£46.2m) — all four of which were also made in the UK, underlining the UK’s role as a leading destination for international film production.

Top 20 films released in the UK and Republic of Ireland, 2016

Total ticket sales for the UK and the Republic of Ireland were worth £1.33bn (up 1.5% on 2015’s £1.31bn) with admissions reaching 168m (2% down on 2015 and slightly above the ten-year average of 167.7m), with the UK-only box office total of £1.227bn, down slightly on 2015’s record-breaking total of £1.236bn.  The performance of US studio-backed British films – made in the UK – accounted for a 27.5% market share, the second highest since records began. The market share for independent UK films released was 7.4%, down from 10.5% in 2015. 

Six of the year’s top 20 grossing films were family driven animated features: Finding Dory (£43m); The Secret Life of Pets (£36.5m), Zootropolis (£24m); Trolls (£23.8m); Moana (£18.2m); and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (£17.1m). Also flying the flag in showcasing high-tech digital production in family-oriented fare were Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book (£46.2m) and Steven Spielberg’s The BFG (£30.8m).

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016)

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016)

Independent home-grown productions embraced by UK audiences in 2016 were led by Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (£16.1m), the first feature film based on the successful TV comedy show; Eddie The Eagle (£8.7m), the sports comedy-drama starring Taron Egerton as the legendary skier; Dad’s Army (£8.7m), also based on a successful UK TV show; and the Oscar® success, The Danish Girl (£7.5m) starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander. 

Top 20 independent films released in the UK and Republic of Ireland, 2016

Also featuring in the top 20 independent film releases were Noel Clarke’s Brotherhood (£3.7m), Ricky Gervais’s David Brent: Life on the Road (£3.6m), Stephen Frears’ multi-award nominated Florence Foster Jenkins (£3.2m), Ken Loach’s Cannes Palme d’Or winning I, Daniel Blake* (£3.2m), Philippa Lowthorpe’s Swallows and Amazons (£3.1m) based on the iconic Arthur Ransome novels, Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom (£2.3m), Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise starring Tom Hiddleston (£2m), and the Louis Theroux feature documentary My Scientology Movie (£1.1m). 

Animation television programme production in 2016

At the time of reporting, 24 television animation programmes were produced in the UK in 2016 with a spend of £57.7m. Of these, 13 were domestic UK productions. However, there is a significant time lag in collecting animation data and these numbers are almost certain to increase as more information becomes available.

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