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The business of film
The business of film

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2.1 Money spent by inward investment films

UK spend of inward investment films has varied dramatically. Inward investment films, according to the BFI, are those films ‘substantially financed and controlled from outside the UK’.

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Figure 4 UK spend of feature films produced in the UK, 1994–2014

Most of these films are major US studio pictures attracted to the UK by script needs and UK fiscal incentives, which are among the more generous available internationally. Another important factor is the US dollar to UK pound exchange rate. When the pound is strong, it increases the costs of production in the UK. When the pound is less strong, UK production costs are cheaper in dollars.

In order to qualify for the UK fiscal incentives, films have to get sufficient points on the UK’s cultural test and so be ‘UK qualifying’. Examples of UK qualifying inward investment films are the seven Harry Potter films and the James Bond franchise. These have an obvious British nature but are inward investment because they are financed by US studios. Other UK qualifying inward investment films which might be surprising are titles including GravityThe Dark Knight Rises, Captain America, the Star Wars sequel trilogy and Solo, Justice League, Fantastic Beasts 2, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Artemis Fowl, and Detective Pikachu.

You can see from the graph why film is so important economically to the UK, and the importance of inward investment to that impact (the red line). In the most recent period shown in the graph, of £1.4 billion of production spend, 85% was due to inward investment.

This degree of production spend helps support a multitude of film companies including equipment rental firms, companies providing studios and shooting stages (such as Pinewood Studios), visual effects (VFX) companies and picture and sound editing companies.