U.S. Films Lose Market Share at U.K. Box Office

Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros. Pictures

Films such as "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" accounted for 60 percent of the country's box office, down from the previous year.

LONDON -- The tally of U.S. movies and the box office share continue to dominate the U.K. and Ireland market but the grip is loosening, according to the British Film Institute's research and statistics unit.

According to the BFI's annual statistical yearbook published Thursday, 38 percent of all films released in the U.K. in 2011 were of U.S. origin -- excluding U.K. co-productions -- and the titles, such The Hangover Part 2 and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, accounted for 60 percent total box office earnings in 2011.

During 2010, 72 percent of box office earnings went to U.S.-produced titles.

The bulging 200-page plus document, collated by the BFI's research and statistics unit, shows that of the 558 titles distributed in the U.K., 212 were U.S.-produced films distributed in movie theaters accounting for £682.3 million ($1 billion) of last year's box office.

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The U.K./U.S. productions -- Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows -- Part 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides among the titles -- while only accounting for three percent of all releases in 2011, secured 22.9 percent of last year's box office, taking £259.3 million.

The huge impact made by the Harry Potter movie franchise is also laid bare in the document.

The research cites the "astonishing success" of the Potter movie over the last 10 years since the first installment, Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone, landed in cinemas in 2001.

The BFI's number crunching document says the Warner Bros.-produced franchise has grossed £442 million ($685 million) at the U.K. box office to date, $7.7 billion at the world wide box office and has sold more than 30 million copies on all video formats in the U.K. alone.

The movie's final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2, topped 2011's U.K. box office chart and the top 20 3D release chart in the U.K. with its £73 million ($113 million) from spellbound British audiences.

In the years between 2001 and 2011, when there was no Potter, the charts and tables all show dramatic dips.

One example is the stats on U.K. films' percentage share of the U.K. theatrical market over the 10 years of the unit's research between 2001 and 2011.

In 2009, with no Potter or Bond film to bolster the tally, market share of U.K. films produced with U.S. studio backing slumped to 8.5 percent but Potter returned in 2010 bringing it back up to 18.6 percent. In 2011, that tally hit 22.9 percent with the box office run of the final film here.

BFI research and statistics unit chief Sean Perkins said the Potter franchise over the last 10 years has affected almost every statistic in the book.

"The investment in the Harry Potter films has had positive effects beyond the franchise itself," Perkins noted, citing Warner Bros' purchase and $100 million investment in Leavesden Studios where it shot as being one.

"In particular it was a major factor in the development of the U.K.'s visual effects sector into a world-class hub while the film's themselves continue to act as the sector's best advert."

Perkins also noted the rise last year of the U.K. independents, citing the success of both The King's Speech and The Inbetweeners as being drivers for a sector on the up.

He told a press briefing that while the box office gold generated by both titles "surprised everyone as the film's just kept on breaking record after record," they did play a part in painting a picture of the British industry as being in rude health.

Industry insiders are hoping it is rude enough to survive a post-Potter era.

"There will always be other stories to make," Perkins said.