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UK film and high-end TV production spend down 32% in strike-impacted 2023

Source: Dean Rogers/Focus Features

Marisa Abela as Any Winehouse in ‘Back To Black’

The UK’s film and high-end TV production (HETV) spend reached over £4.23bn in 2023, 32% down on 2022 in a year in which UK production was heavily impacted by the Hollywood strikes, but almost level with 2019 pre-covid production spend, according to statistics published (February 1) by the British Film Institute (BFI) .

Total film production reached £1.36bn, 31% down on 2022, while high-end TV stood at almost £2.9bn, 33% down on the record-breaking 2022 but still third highest annual spend since tax relief was introduced in 2013.

The £2.9bn spend on high-end TV includes £379m from 18 film productions made for streaming platforms.

US features in production in the UK in 2023 that were derailed by the US actors’ strike included Deadpool 3, Wicked and How To Train Your Dragon. UK projects to shoot included Amy Winehouse biopic Back To Black and Steve McQueen’s Blitz.

Inward investment and co-production spend on film and high-end television in the UK reached £3.31bn, or 78% of the combined production spend, 39% down on 2022 and closer to pre-pandemic levels.

UK local film production spend is £150.2m, only 11% of the total spend on film and a 13% decrease on spend in 2022; while UK local HETV production spend is £766m, 27% of total HETV production, and 21% more than in 2022.

Of the £1.36bn spend on 207 film productions in 2023, inward investment films contributed £1.04bn (77% of total film spend), a 40% decrease on 2022; and co-production spend accounted for £162.8m (just over 12% of total film spend), more than two and a half times spend in 2022.

Of the total £2.87bn spend on 187 HETV productions in 2023 inward investment shows contributed £2.07bn (72% of total HETV spend), a 43% decrease on 2022; domestic UK shows accounted for £766m (27% of total HETV spend), a 21% increase on 2022; and co-production spend was £38.9m (1.4% of total spend), a 7% increase on 2022.

“The production and box office figures that we have published today reflect the different dynamics at play across our sector,” said BFI chief executive Ben Roberts. “Whilst a level of film and high-end television production in the UK was disrupted by strikes in 2023, our industry continues to contribute billions to the UK economy and support a huge range of jobs.”

Adrian Wootton, chief executive of the British Film Commission, added: “Globally, the current environment for film and TV production has become challenging for a number of reasons and it will come as no surprise that as a result of industrial action in the US suspending production half way through the year, today’s figures are lower than those for 2022.

”However, despite this, we remain incredibly proud of the UK’s position as a leading global centre for film and TV production, post and visual effects, attracting international and domestic producers to make their content here. This is the result of our world-class crew base – in which we continue to invest, our generous tax credits – which have once again been enhanced, and our increased UK-wide stage space offer, coupled with our range of cutting-edge facilities and diverse locations.” 

Culture secretary Lucy Frazer commented: “While the American strikes mean it has been a challenging year for global film production, the future for British film remains bright as it continues to bring in billions of pounds to our economy. Five of the top ten highest-grossing films at the UK box office were made on British soil, which is testament to our film industry’s ability to draw audiences to cinemas and compete on the world stage.

“Our success is built on the innate talent of our actors, writers, creatives and crews. But it is also a product of this government’s efforts – through our tax reliefs and investments in skills, technology and studio infrastructure – to make the UK the best place to write, produce and direct. We will continue to champion our screen sectors as we deliver our plans to boost the creative industries by £50bn by 2030 and keep the success story of UK studios and cinemas going.”

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