Film admissions surge in UK, production spend wobbles

By Andreas Wiseman

BFI stats reveal surge in admissions in 2015 but potential fall in production spend of UK independent productions in past year.

UK cinema admissions and box office are back on track in 2015 after a challenging 2014, according to new figures compiled by the BFI.

However, spend on UK independent productions could hit a worrying low, with spend currently down more than £116m year-on-year, but are likely to rise after additional data has been collected.

Bounce back

According to the figures, UK cinemas have seen a surge in admissions totalling 83 million visits during the first half of 2015 – 10% higher than for the first half of last year.

The UK is on course to release more than 700 films this year and rake in well over £1bn at the box office.

A total of 358 films have been released in cinemas in the UK and the Republic of Ireland up to July 12 grossing £591m compared to £490m from 342 films over the same period last year.

Jurassic World has accounted for a significant percentage of the receipts so far this year having grossed close to £60m to date followed by Avengers: Age of Ultron (£48m), which shot in the UK, and Fast & Furious 7 (£38.5m).

Many predicted a bounce back year for UK admissions and box office this year due to the large number of tent-poles on the schedule.

Meanwhile, the market share for UK independent films so far this year stands at 8.6%, with Studiocanal-backed Shaun the Sheep Movie [£13.7m] the only non-studio released film in the top 20 films so far this year.

In 2014, buoyed in part by the huge success of The Inbetweeners 2 and Paddington, UK independent market share finished on a whopping 16.1%.

Production spend

According to the BFI stats, the first six months of the year has seen a strong spend of £594m on film production in the UK across 79 films.

Of this, inward investment films accounted for £518m of spend across 21 features (or 87%) with domestic UK films (budgeted at £500,000 and above) contributing £56m from 24 films.

The past 12 months (July 2014 to June 2015) have seen a total spend on production in the UK of £1.199 bn compared to £1.549bn for the previous rolling 12 months (July 2013 to June 2014).

Within this total inward investment accounted for £1.062 bn compared to £1.254 bn over the previous 12 months; domestic UK films (over £500k) totalled £99.8m compared to £216.3m in the equivalent period the year before.

While the significant fall in domestic spend could indicate a more hostile climate for producers trying to raise money for indigenous films, the figures only relate to productions that started shoot in the first half of the year so numbers are expected to rise once additional data has been collected [for those films that only recently started shoot].

Spend on high-end TV production in H1 2015 was £279 million across 30 productions including Downton Abbey Series 6Outlander Season 2 and War and Peace. The figure for the last 12 months was £514m.

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