U.K. films' market share hits eight-year low

Figures show that U.K. films garnered $2 billion globally

LONDON -- Market share of British films at the global boxoffice in 2009 hit an eight-year low, according to figures published Thursday by the U.K. Film Council.

The figures show that U.K. films -- including the myriad studio-bankrolled projects such as "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" and "Sherlock Holmes" -- secured a 6.7% market share in 2009, garnering $2 billion globally for the titles that have passed the cultural test to fly under the union jack flag.

Analysts have to go back to 2002 to find market share on a par when that year British movies accounted for a 6.9% share. In 2008, U.K. movies grabbed a 15.1% share of the spoils, or $4.2 billion.

The figures are a blow to an industry basking in the success of British endeavors that last year included "Slumdog Milllionaire," "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "The Tale Of Despereaux."

The Council said the lower U.K. market share in 2009 "can be explained by the reduced number of U.K. inward investment films -- cash flowing into production from overseas -- in the marketplace compared to 2008, when "The Dark Knight," "Quantum of Solace" and "Mamma Mia!" dominated the worldwide boxoffice.

U.K. Film Council CEO John Woodward played down the slump in boxoffice fortunes around the world.

"It's always tempting to look for trends in statistics, but this isn't really possible when we look at U.K. films' share of the global box office. That's because these figures can fluctuate quite significantly every year thanks to only one or two massive films, like "Mamma Mia!" or the latest "James Bond," Woodward said. "So, whilst it's disappointing to see the share drop in 2009, we're anticipating a bounce-back next year, thanks mainly to the higher number of big event films made in the U.K. during 2009."

The stats come just weeks after the Film Distributors' Association said the appetite for British films has never been higher.
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