U.K. 2013 Production Spend Rose, Number of Film Releases Hit High

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Amanda Nevill, CEO of the British Film Insitute

The British Film Institute predicts that Britain will overtake Japan in terms of total filmed entertainment revenue by 2018 as the box office broke the $1.7 billion mark for the third year in a row.

LONDON – U.K. production spending rose to $1.9 billion in 2013 as the box office exceeded $1.7 billion (£1 billion) for the third successive year, according to new data released by the British Film Institute Thursday.

The BFI’s annual Statistical Yearbook presented at the event shows that a record 698 films were released in 2013, a figure that was up by more than 50 from 2012. They generated $1.964 billion (£1.154 billion) up to Feb. 23 as films released last year remained in cinemas well into the new year.

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For the first time, animation led the way in terms of genre, taking a 21 percent share of box-office, driven by such successes as Despicable Me 2, which grossed $80 million (£47 million) in Britain.

Despite topping the billion-pound mark again, box-office numbers were down by 1 percent from 2012, with this drop attributed to the 2012 success of Skyfall, the U.K.’s biggest film of all time.

On the production side, U.K.’s film spend was put at $1.9 billion (£1.1 billion) for 2013, up from $1.7 billion (£994 million) in 2012. Of this figure, inward investment amounted to $1.5 billion (£860 million), up by $322 million (£189 million) from 2012, and accounting for 81 percent of the total spend.

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Helping drive this boost were big-budget U.K.-produced films such as The Monuments Men and upcoming titles such as Paddington, The Imitation Game and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The BFI calculated that British films made $4.1 billion at the global box office in 2013, an 11 percent share of the world market, but down from 15 percent a year earlier. The share of U.K. independent films globally also fell slightly, to 1.6 percent from a high of 2.8 percent in 2011, which was attributed to the phenomenal success of The King’s Speech, while alone took in $662 million (£389 million) that year.

The list of U.K. independent films in 2013 was topped by Philomena and Rush, which both broke the £10 million barrier in U.K. box office.

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“We didn’t have a King’s Speech this time, but we regularly had several U.K. films in the top 10 at the same time,” said Ben Roberts, head of the BFI Film Fund, adding that he thought the record number of films being released actually turned out to mean there were "too many" films for the local market, which could potentially hurt investment.

With total filmed entertainment revenue, including box office, home entertainment and more, at $6.6 billion (£3.9 billion) for 2013, the U.K. retained its third-place ranking behind the U.S. at $34.2 billion (£20.1 billion) and Japan with $7.3 billion (£4.3 billion), according to the BFI.

"However, we predict that the U.K. will overtake Japan by 2018," said Vivienne Avery, the BFI’s head of research and statistics, adding that the growth of the Chinese market would also see it in contention for the number two spot around the same period. "But we don’t have all the necessary figures for this yet," she said.

“Today’s figures reveal that the U.K. film industry continues to be not only one of the world’s greatest providers of cinematic entertainment, but also a massive driver of economic growth," U.K. culture minister Ed Vaizey said in a statement.

At the event, BFI CEO Amanda Nevill pointed out that while the figures were pleasing, it was the role of the organization to continuously push and support film. “Our job here is to never be content,” she said.