U.K. movie production 'holding up well'

Film council says quality and skills in U.K. lure Hollywood

LONDON -- A fall in local movie production is masked here by a sharp uptick in films shooting here with Hollywood studio backing in the first nine months of 2009.

Overall, levels of filmmaking in the U.K. are "holding up well" despite the global economic downturn, the collapse in the presales market, the drop in advertising budgets and faltering DVD sales, the U.K. Film Council said after rolling out the figures.

The council said the quality of the work force and the skills available in the U.K. meant Hollywood keeps coming back.

Inward investment in the U.K. production sector hit an all-time high for the first nine months of 2009, the Council said. Total inward investment spend rocketed 142% to £686.4 million ($1.12 billion) in the first nine months of this year, up from £283.7 million during the same period last year.

Titles adding to the cash bonanza injected into the sector here include "Inception," "The Special Relationship" and "Your Highness" as well as "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I," "Untitled Robin Hood Adventure," "Clash of the Titans" and "Gulliver's Travels."

But total spend on U.K. productions dropped from £182.8 million in the first nine months of 2008 to £154.2 million ($250.7 million) in the first nine months of 2009.

Prominent local U.K. titles shooting include "Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang," "Paul," "The Killer Inside Me," "1-800-Love," "Centurion," "Blitz" and "The Great Ghost Rescue."

And the level of co-productions faired far worse -- halving in numbers made from 18 in 2008 to eight movies set up as co-productions in the same period in 2009.

U.K. Film Council chief executive John Woodward said the continuing fall in independent co-productions was a source of "ongoing concern" which is because "the one flaw in the otherwise excellent film tax credit" is that it "disincentivizes U.K. participation in co-productions by focusing tax relief only on production spend made on the ground in the U.K."