Brexit: 5 Top British Films That Exist Thanks to EU

2010 - "The King's Speech" - H 2016

Britain's vote to leave the European Union could threaten the funding that helped back Oscar winners like 'Amy' and 'The King's Speech.'

The Brexit referendum vote last Thursday has sent shock waves across Europe, with financial markets still stunned by the decision of a majority of British voters to leave the European Union.

For the film industry, Brexit's long-term implications are still a matter of fierce debate and great uncertainty. What is clear is that, in the past, the British film biz has been a major beneficiary of EU largesse. Some of Britain's most successful films have been funded, in part, by European subsidies. The MEDIA program, which has a mandate to support films expressing European culture, has funneled around $180 million into British productions in the period between 2007-2015.

Some of these have been very European features, like Peter Webber's Girl With the Pearl Earring, about 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, or the Nicole Kidman-starring biopic Grace of Monaco, from French director Olivier Dahan, made as a messy France-U.K.-U.S.-Italy co-production.

But the EU and the MEDIA program in particular have consistently backed the best in British cinema. Here are five top Brit pics that exist because of the EU:

The King's Speech

Tom Hooper's Oscar-winning drama about the stuttering King George VI (Colin Firth) and his battle to rouse the nation against Adolf Hitler's Germany is as tub-thumpingly patriotic as British movies come. But the project had a tough time getting made, with both BBC Films and Film4 turning down the opportunity to back the script. Europe was more generous, providing nearly $1 million in distribution support, helping The King's Speech conquer the world.


Asif Kapadia's documentary on the life and untimely death of English soul-singing sensation Amy Winehouse got a start on its Oscar-winning run with some well-timed distribution backing from the EU.

I, Daniel Blake

Ken Loach's astonishing career has gotten consistent, and often essential, support from the EU, which has backed virtually all of his recent films. His latest, I, Daniel Blake, which won the Palme d'Or in Cannes, received both development and distribution cash from the MEDIA program.

Shaun the Sheep Movie

British farmers aren't the only rural folk to enjoy EU subsidies. Aardvark Animation's feature-length version of its television hit, produced by the pan-European StudioCanal, picked up some $200,000 in MEDIA backing.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The reboot of John Le Carre's beloved spy thriller was another pan-European production — involving Swedish director Tomas Alfredson working with the U.K.'s Working Title and France's StudioCanal — that delivered a very British result. The drama — starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch — garnered sales and distribution support from the EU.