U.K. film '08: Cheeri-uh-oh<sub18> Prod'n spending, investment from international filmmakers plunge</sub18>


Currency fluctuations, the WGA strike and improved U.S. tax incentives contributed to a hefty downturn in U.K. production spending in 2008, according to the U.K. Film Council.

Production spending fell to £578.2 million ($806.4 million) last year, off a sharp 23% from 2007, and Film Council boss John Woodward predicts more pain for the British indie sector.

"We will begin to see the full effects of the economic situation take their toll on independent British movies; it's going to be even harder for these types of films to raise credit, especially through bank loans," Woodward said. "Therefore, the Lottery funding that the U.K. Film Council provides will become even more important, as will the (U.K.) tax credit and support from broadcasters such as Channel 4 and the BBC."

Inward investment from international filmmakers, including Hollywood studio productions shot in the U.K. like Rob Marshall's "Nine," also fell, slumping 35% to bring £338 million ($471 million) into the British economy in 2008.

But the Council said the outlook for inward investment this year is rosier because of an "upturn in the exchange rate, which is further enhancing the U.K.'s competitiveness and encouraging the U.S. studios to bring more work to the U.K."

The U.K. was involved in 20 co-productions last year, down from 28 in 2007, with a total British expenditure on those films of £48 million ($67 million), down 35% from the previous year.

Woodward said the U.K. tax credit system remains "absolutely vital in keeping us competitive and helping to bring more than £330 million ($460 million) in foreign investment into our economy." (partialdiff)
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