British films banked $4.2 billion worldwide last year, according to the latest statistics released on 16 July by the UK Film Council.
Based on box office revenues, almost one in six film viewings at the cinema around the world last year was of a British film, equalling 15% of the global box office and accumulating $4.2 billion in ticket sales, nearly a billion dollars more than in 2007. The Dark Knight was the best performing UK qualifying film at the worldwide box office, earning almost $1 billion, whilst in Europe the top British film was the UK/USA production Mamma Mia!, which attracted more than 34 million admissions.
Compiled by the UK Film Council’s Research and Statistics Unit, the Statistical Yearbook presents the most comprehensive picture of film in the UK and the performance of British films abroad during 2008.
John Woodward, Chief Executive Officer of the UK Film Council, said:
“Billions at the box office and billions back to the UK economy – these are big numbers which underline the value of the UK film industry and the strength of our cultural talent. They also highlight just how important it is that we build on the many hard-won achievements and continue to invest in the long-term future of British film.
“The one downside – and as the UK Film Council has consistently said – is the worrying drop in co-productions, once again reinforcing the need to revisit the film tax relief, which currently stifles UK filmmakers from building international film partnerships and disadvantages them when filming abroad.”
At home British films were a massive hit, accounting for 31% of the tickets sold in the UK, up from 29% in 2007. Five of the top 20 films at the UK box office in 2008 were British, led by Mamma Mia!, whichearned more than £69 million to become the highest grossing film of all time at the UK box office. The other top British films were Quantum of Solace (£51 million), The Dark Knight (£49 million), Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (£12 million) and Sweeney Todd (£11 million).
Despite the onset of the ‘credit crunch’ in late 2008, cinema-going has remained one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the UK, with an increase in both box office and admissions. Box office receipts totalled £850 million, a rise of 3.5% on 2007’s £821 million and a 50% increase since the UK Film Council was created in 2000. In addition, audiences for film on DVD and television also remained strong. The average British viewer watched 63 films on television over the year.
Alongside its Statistical Yearbook, the UK Film Council also published the UK film production statistics for the first half of 2009. The numbers indicate the healthy return of inward investment films to UK studios in 2009, giving the UK its best first half year (H1) production figures since 2004. The total UK spend value in H1 2009 was £535.1 million, compared with £363 million in H1 2008.
Of the £535.1 million total, £436.2 million was accounted for by inward investment films such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Clash of the Titans and Gulliver’s Travels.
A significant trend in the UK production statistics is the fall in average and median budgets for UK domestic films. The average budget for UK domestic films has fallen from £5.6 million in 2003 to £3.3 million in H1 2009. Over the same period, the median domestic UK film budget has fallen from £2.9 million to £1.3 million, reflecting the tougher investment climate affecting UK domestic films and the need for efficiencies across the board.