Report: Glass half full for U.K. film

Film Council touts exports, success of Brit-born tales

The U.K. Film Council is painting an upbeat picture of the British film industry despite year-to-year drops in boxoffice revenue, television audiences and value to broadcasters.

In a study released this morning, the council touts the fact that, despite a 1% year-to-year drop in 2006 boxoffice revenue, to £762 million ($1.5 billion), the U.K. boxoffice has risen 56% over the past 10 years — from £489 million in 1997.

According to the council, the U.K. punches well above its weight as the third-largest filmed entertainment market in the world, after the U.S. and Japan.

In 2005, the latest year available, U.K. films carved out $2.2 billion at the global boxoffice — approximately 500 million admissions, according to the report. The overall U.K. entertainment market, meanwhile, registered total revenue of $6.6 billion that same year.

And despite the slight downturn at the boxoffice, the council heralded British creative talent, highlighting the fact that stories created by U.K. writers earned more than $13 billion at the global boxoffice over the past few years. Material from such writers as J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Patrick O'Brian contributed to the success.

The total audience for film on television reached 3.3 billion in 2006, according to stats compiled by the council's research and statistics unit, down from 3.4 billion the previous year.

The most-watched movie on the small screen last year was "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," which swashbuckled its way to 9.5 million viewers for BBC1.

The value of film to broadcasters — calculated by a complicated theoretical model — remained flat, at just over £1 billion ($2 billion) in 2006 and 2005.

In a statement, U.K. Film Council CEO John Woodward said that there was much to be positive about, with exports up and British creative talent attracting audiences and plaudits.

"However, there are a number of challenges ahead, particularly the opportunities offered by the new digital world, which requires the film industry to work in new ways; the growing threat of piracy, particularly online piracy; and increasing competition from abroad," Woodward said.