The future of the UK film industry discussed in parliament

Pinewood Studios
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Key members of the UK Screen Alliance fielded questions at yesterday’s UK Parliament’s cross-party inquiry into British film and high-end TV.

The last year or so has seen the UK film industry come under a fair amount of scrutiny from the UK government. After all, it’s an incredibly successful sector and a guaranteed money-spinner so the incumbent administration has been looking at the industry in the wake of a pandemic, Hollywood strikes and a reshaped industry landscape to see what the future holds.

There have been industry-wide surveys, new levels of tax relief announced in the chancellor’s annual budget and now, leading figures from the UK screen sector have been invited to Parliament to discuss the future of the British film and high-end TV industry.

Perhaps the key takeaway from the discussions is that these leading figures feel the UK is well placed to handle the slowdown in production that seems to be occurring in the wake of a new economic reality and the end of the gold rush phase of the ‘streaming wars’.

According to Andrew Smith, corporate affairs director at Pinewood, years of growth are now reversing.

“The content arms race has come to an end… The number of film and high-end TV productions are probably going to fall back to a more normalised level,” he said.

“If you look at some of the comments in the press by the likes of [Disney boss] Bob Iger, who said we are going to make less, and focus more on quality; Paramount made a similar comment recently about improving return on investment by lowering the average cost per title; others have made similar comments. There’s been a re-balancing and growth has normalised.”

Still, Smith argues that the UK is well placed to deal with this.

However, with another possible US strike looming this year, Adrian Wootton, chief executive of the British Film Commission laid bare just how dependent the UK is on Hollywood’s dollars, revealing that “something like 98%” of inward investment into the UK comes from America.”

Concern was also expressed about the future health of the UK’s VFX industry, with Neil Hatton, chief executive of the UK Screen Alliance stating that “a lot of visual effects companies are really suffering – during the Covid pandemic, we estimated 23% layoffs to the workforce in visual effects.”

You can read a more comprehensive overview of the proceedings at Screen Daily and it’s well worth a look. What happens as a result of these proceedings remains to be seen but with a new government potentially on the way, further change could be ahead.

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