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Star Wars Episode VIII may have only just been given a name, but it has already helped the U.K. to its best-ever year — by far — for investment in its film industry from abroad.
Thanks to 48 major films, including the likes of The Last Jedi, plus Dunkirk, Justice League, Alien Covenant, Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, The Mummy reboot, Paddington 2 and Transformers: The Last Knight, shooting in the U.K. in 2016, overseas spending hit £1.35 billion, or $1.7 billion, up 18 percent from 2015’s £1.15 billion, or about $1.45 billion.
Meanwhile, spend from international high-end TV productions hit £477.8 million ($602.5 million), boosted by shows such as The Crown, Game of Thrones, Fortitude, The White Princess and Outlander.
While the U.K.’s tax relief scheme for film and high-end TV has been a major driver behind the growing investment, 2016 also saw the Brexit referendum. The terms of the U.K.’s departure from the European Union are yet to be ironed out, but the value of the pound instantly fell dramatically against the dollar, hitting a 31-year-low earlier this month, making shooting considerably cheaper for Hollywood studios.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter just two weeks before the release of the stats, the head of the British Film Commission, Adrian Wootton, said he was a “pretty optimistic” that the numbers were going to be “very, very positive.”
Elsewhere, the British box office in 2016 was the second highest of all time, reaching $1.55 billion, led by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, followed by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Bridget Jones’s Baby and The Jungle Book. All four were made in the U.K.
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