Official figures published by the BFI’s Research and Statistics Unit reveal continued growth with the highest level of cinema admissions since 1970, a growth in the box office market share achieved by independent UK films and continued high levels of production investment across high-end television and film, reinforcing the UK’s global reputation as a world-leading centre for film and TV production.
A combination of blockbuster films led by Avengers: Infinity War, followed by Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again – the top two grossers of the year – and independent UK films such as Darkest Hour and Johnny English Strikes Again, drove a strong year at the UK and Republic of Ireland box office. Collectively, films released in 2018 attracted 177 million admissions, representing a 3.7 per cent increase on the previous year and a box office value of £1.387 billion. The appetite of UK audiences for cinema is further demonstrated by the UK’s growth in admissions, which counters decreasing results elsewhere around the world and is particularly notable in a FIFA World Cup year.
The market share of independent UK films at the box office in 2018 was 11.7 per cent, an increase from 9.5 per cent in 2017 and at the third highest point in a decade. When UK-made, studio-backed films are added to the picture, e.g. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Bohemian Rhapsody, Mary Poppins
Returns and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the full UK market share increases to 44.8 per cent, the highest since records began.
The spend on high-end television and film production in the UK in 2018 reached £3.1 billion. This is the second highest year on record, following 2017’s record performance of £3.28 billion, 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, which collectively attract vital inward investment into the UK film economy and support indigenous production.
Films made in the UK in 2018 and in the pipeline for release in 2019/2020 includes both inward investment blockbusters such as JJ Abrams’ Star Wars Episode IX, Kenneth Branagh’s Artemis Fowl, Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman, Stephen Gaghan’s The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, Michael Engler’s Downton Abbey, Gavin Hood’s Official Secrets, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984, Tom Harper’s The Aeronauts, Rob Letterman’s Pokémon: Detective Pikachu; and independent UK films including Danny Boyle’s All You Need Is Love, Gurinder Chadha’s Blinded by the Light, Romola Garai’s Outside, Rupert Goold’s Judy, Philippa Lowthorpe’s Misbehaviour, Marc Munden’s The Secret Garden, Billie Piper’s Rare Beasts and Richard Starzak’s Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon.
The surge in new high-end television productions made in 2018, which achieved a record year-on-year spend, included The Crown, The ABC Murders, Black Mirror, Call the Midwife, Catherine the Great, Death & Nightingales, The Durrells, His Dark Materials, Luther, The Little Drummer Girl, Les Misérables, Pennyworth, The Rook, The Spanish Princess, The Trial of Christine Keeler, Torville & Dean, The War of the Worlds and The Witcher.
Margot James, Digital and Creative Industries Minister said: “These statistics confirm yet again that the UK is truly a global powerhouse for the screen industries, with a strong showing from our independent film sector. Billions of pounds are spent every year on film and high-end TV in the UK, and we will continue to back the sector to further strengthen this success story.”
Amanda Nevill CBE, CEO of the BFI, said: “In a time of seismic change, today’s figures prove that film and television are thriving, a vital creative industry that is outstripping other sectors. With spend for film and high-end television production at almost £3.1 billion, we remain one of the most in demand places in the world to create moving image content. The benefits are being felt UK-wide with production expanding in the nations and regions, boosting the economy, building skills, creating jobs and giving opportunities for people of all backgrounds to join our industry. Film is a global business and our creativity and talent remain one of the UK’s most potent exports as we navigate new relationships internationally. Audiences are increasingly watching film and television on a variety of platforms and at the same time are going to the cinema more than ever. Such a healthy market share for independent UK films suggests that audiences’ appreciation for home grown stories, as well as big global blockbusters, is on the rise.”
Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive of the British Film Commission and Film London, said: “It is hugely rewarding to see today’s figures reflecting the UK’s flourishing screen sectors. Film and high-end TV are big business and year after year we are privileged to welcome inward investment productions to every region and nation of the UK, drawn here by our global reputation as a leading centre for world-class talent, facilities and technical expertise. This demand, and our collective success in consistently delivering at the highest level, ensures we are able to continue driving economic growth and job creation, which in turn provides training opportunities for talent from every background. Such is the volume of incoming projects, throughout 2018 we saw significant increases in the value of film and HETV based in the UK the previous year – increases of 10 per cent and 18 per cent respectively – so we look forward to revisiting 2018’s inward investment figures later in the year.”