Sony Chairman, Warner Bros. Executives, 'James Bond' Producer Tout U.K. Creative Sector
A summit held in London during the Summer Olympics also saw "Harry Potter" producer David Heyman and designer Stella McCartney put the spotlight on British content and creatives.
LONDON – Sony Corp. chairman Howard Stringer, top Warner Bros. executives, James Bond producer Michael G. Wilson and fashion designer Stella McCartney, who designed Team Great Britain’s Olympic kit, were among the big names showcasing the U.K.’s creative industry and talent to international businesses here on Tuesday.
At the gathering dubbed "Creative Content Summit," Wilson, one of the producers of the James Bond franchise for Albert Broccoli’s EON Productions, warned business luminaries that complacency was the enemy of success.
As Bond backers MGM, Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment promoted the launch of the latest trailer for Daniel Craig's latest 007 outing in Skyfall, Wilson said that as the franchise films were “becoming more and more fantastical,” he and producing partner Barbara Broccoli decided to to reinvent Bond.
“Pierce [Brosnan] was well-liked, and the grosses were going up, but we knew we had to change,” he said in a webcast session. And he also noted that making changes ignoring market research on what Bond fans liked about the films – Brosnan, at the time, in the lead role, gadgets and quips from the protagonist – was a gamble they took.
The summit held at the British Business Embassy was hosted by the government's UK Trade & Investmentbody in an effort to push the U.K. profile as the London 2012 Olympics continue in full swing, Wilson echoed some opening comments made by Sony Corp. chairman Howard Stringer.
Stringer said for the U.K. to prosper as "news and commerce literally travels at the speed of light," business operators should be reminded of the importance of cultural risk-taking.
U.K. studio facility group Pinewood Shepperton's CEO Ivan Dunleavy, in conversation with Ed Vaizey, minister for culture, communications and creative Industries, noted that his studio was taking risks by investing in movie projects again rather than just playing host to productions at its sites.
Working Title Films chiefs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner also showed up to promote the idea of quality and talent and argued that Britishness sells.
Bevan said: “There’s an international appetite for British culture. With cultural specificity…the audience tends to respond to it. Billy Elliot and Four Weddings have that kind of cultural specificity.”
And Harry Potter producer David Heyman trumpeted the strength of the U.K.’s post-production sector, saying that 95 percent of the VFX for the later Potter films were done in Britain. Meanwhile, Warrner U.K. president Josh Berger noted that the U.K. was becoming Warner's second home, which is why it had made sense for its to buy up Leavesden Studios and pump $100 million into its recent revamp.
McCartney, whose father, former Beatles member Paul McCartney, had rocked the end of Danny Boyle's Olympic 2012 opening ceremony, talked up the wealth of British designers and the training available here citing the fact you can hear English voices in the fashion world everywhere, including the big French fashion houses.
Vaizey said:“The U.K. has one of the strongest creative content sectors in the world: we export more TV formats than any other country; we have the world’s third largest film industry; we are Europe’s largest games developer and we are one of only four countries publishing more than 100,000 titles every year."
He added: “This means that the UK is well placed to grasp the enormous potential for growth presented by the digital age. New technology is providing people with far more ways to access and consume content when and where they want, and the U.K.’s creative content producers have never had greater opportunity to grow into new markets and directly reach new customers with the content they produce.”