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Thursday, 22 July 2010

UKFC Statistical Yearbook 2010


This week the UK Film Council put the latest Statistical Yearbook online. For someone interested in the nuts and bolts of the UK film industry, this is an important document. It offers, free of charge, a vast amount of data and research related to every aspect of the British film scene, from production to exhibition, from TV to 3D.

I always jump straight to the exhibition chapter, as this is the area in which I work in, and in many ways, not much has changed. The figures are roughly the same as last year. The other area I like to examine is the specialised cinema section, which details the fate of the types of films we like to show at the Dukes. The market share for this sector is up significantly, but only because 'specialised' includes things like Michael Jackson's This Is It and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

An intriguing section is the public funding bit - it lists the amount of government money given to the film industry - unfortunately it lumped Distribution and Exhibition together into the same pile.

So I asked them to break it down: according to the UKFC, "Of the £31.6 m total (D&E), £17.0m went to the BFI, which we can't separate into Distrib and Exhib. Of the remaining £14.6m (spent by the UKFC, Regional Agencies etc) we estimate £10.1m went to Exhib, with the remainder to Distrib." but that really doesn't tell me anything so I queried it yet again. They kindly agreed to furnish me with more information: "The figure for distribution includes the P&A Fund, EU Media scheme's support for distribution, and a number of smaller sources of support for the distribution sector. The figure for exhibition comes from a far wider range of sources and covers support including:
·the UK Film Council's digital screen network
·investment in the film society movement, grants to film festivals
·a range of investment in the programming and outreach of art house cinemas all across the UK"

So the mystery remains - where is all this money being spent on exhibition? Since the Digital Screen Network scheme, which finalised in 2008, there has been no investment in cinemas in this country.

Nearly 60% of all the public funding for film went to production, with films like Nativity receiving £500,000 and Centurion receiving £1,200,000, to name but just two. And those are the films that were released. There are dozens of titles supported by public money that you'll never see in your local cinema. And now the big Tory axe comes along to cut, and the UK film industry can look back at a wasted decade producing films people have never seen.

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