The British Film Institute‘s Film Fund is the largest public film fund in the UK. Per annum, it invests over £27M ($46.2M) into development, production, international sales and distribution and supports about 30 new films each year. Now, it’s getting serious about diversity and will require movies meet a list of standards before doling out any cash. In order to ensure that titles receiving funding “reflect and represent the diversity of the UK”, a “three ticks” approach is being set up. Beginning September 1, all BFI Film Fund-supported projects must demonstrate “commitment to encouraging diverse representation across their workforces and in the portrayal of under-represented stories and groups on screen.” The org says it’s concerned with diversity in relation to ethnicity, disability, gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. Applicants will have to be able to put a check mark next to at least one criterion in a minimum of two areas out of on-screen diversity, off-screen diversity and creating opportunities and promoting social mobility. A diversity expert is bring brought in to help implement the guidelines.
After agreeing in principle to support the conclusion of a co-production treaty last December, the UK and China have finally put pen to paper. British Culture Minister Ed Vaizey and Vice Minister Tong Gang of state authority SAPPRFT signed the pact in Beijing today. The treaty, which is subject to ratification, is being touted by Britain as welcome news. It could ease access to the world’s second-largest box office market: Films will have to qualify for true co-production status, which eliminates the quota barrier on foreign movies. The exact qualifying criteria have yet to be laid out, but would be expected to include financial and cultural elements. Importantly, if a film is granted the co-production seal, it will be able to access “national benefits including sources of finance” the parties said today. That means the lucrative UK film tax relief system as well as the BFI Film Fund. BFI CEO Amanda Nevill called the treaty “hugely significant for UK film as it will open the door for our filmmakers to collaborate and contribute to each other’s success.” The BFI has been pushing hard to enhance its relationship with China. In January, it established the Electric Shadows initiative encompassing a year of business, trade, and creative and cultural collaborations between the countries.
The British Film Institute created a pilot scheme in January to give a leg up to UK films premiering at Sundance with a view to helping them attract theatrical distribution in the U.S. The program has now been extended to five films in selection at the upcoming SXSW Festival which runs March 7-16. The BFI is making up to £25,000 ($41,750) available to U.S. distributors who acquire the films to boost marketing campaigns and help support the promotion of UK talent to American audiences. The films that fall under the initiative are documentary The Legend Of Shorty, co-directed by Angus Macquee and Guillermo Galdos; Vision selections Beyond Clueless, directed by Charlie Lyne, and The Possibilities Are Endless, co-directed by Edward Lovelace and James Hall; and 24 Beats Per Second entries Pulp, directed by Florian Habicht, and Soul Boys of the Western World, directed by George Hencken. The scheme was successful in Sundance with all three entries, Hong Khaou’s Lilting, Stuart Murdoch’s God Help The Girl and Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s 20,000 Days On Earth, each sealing a U.S. theatrical deal. BFI Film Fund director, Ben Roberts, says, “With each of the eligible films at Sundance quickly securing U.S. distribution deals, we were very keen to extend the pilot to see if it has legs at SXSW, and explore further if it can help …
In an effort to give a leg up to UK films premiering in Sundance this month, the British Film Institute has launched an initiative to help them attract theatrical distribution and reach wider audiences in the U.S. The scheme will start out as a pilot and is limited to British films currently without Stateside distribution which have a production budget of less than £2M ($3.28M). The BFI will award up to £25K ($41K) per film to U.S. distributors to help with theatrical marketing campaigns and to support the promotion of UK film talent. The funds will be available only if a distributor acquires one of the three eligible films within three months of their Sundance debut, and only if the distributor intends to release the film theatrically in the U.S. with screenings in a minimum of five of the top 25 markets within 12 months of the acquisition. There are three films eligible for funding at Sundance: Hong Khaou’s Lilting, the opening film in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition sold by Protagonist Pictures; Stuart Murdoch’s God Help The Girl, also premiering in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition; and Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s drama-documentary about Nick Cave, 20,000 Days On Earth, which bows in the World Cinema Documentary Competition. The latter two films are handled by HanWay. The maximum funding available per film will be the …
UK-China Co-Production Treaty Inches Closer As Countries Sign Cultural Accord; David Cameron Pushes For Free Trade
British Prime Minister David Cameron is in China this week on a mission to strengthen ties with the booming nation across many sectors, the film industry among them. He’s traveling with a large delegation that includes Culture Secretary Maria Miller, head of the British Film Institute Amanda Nevill and Pinewood Shepperton CEO Ivan Dunleavy. Although details were still being hammered out as of yesterday, it’s been hoped that a long-in-the-works co-production treaty between the UK and China would be unveiled on the ground. In the meantime, the pair today did announce a “cultural agreement” that includes in its text an accord “in principle” to support the conclusion of the treaty, and a bid to facilitate TV productions in both countries.
A treaty could still be signed this week, but it’s not a guarantee of more British films making their way into China since true co-production status, which eliminates the quota barrier on foreign movies, remains elusive across the board. A treaty wouldn’t relax the censors either as all movies are susceptible to cuts. Last year’s Skyfall, which was shot at Pinewood and also partly in China, saw some scenes excised from the version that went to local theaters.
However, in a longterm move, Cameron is also pushing for a free trade agreement between China and the EU – curiously at a time when Britain continues to debate whether it wants to remain part of the Union at all. I’ve heard conflicting thoughts on whether free trade would permit UK films to bypass the quota system, and the proposal overall is likely to rankle other EU countries. In a letter he penned in the current edition of Chinese business weekly Caixin, Cameron remarked on the increasingly prosperous Chinese population and cited James Bond and Downton Abbey, among Britain’s “world-class goods and services they need.” He wrote that he would back “an ambitious and comprehensive EU-China Free Trade Agreement… that could be worth tens of billions of dollars every year.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: Susanne Bier’s ‘A Second Chance’ Adds Three; Fox Sports 2 Coming To Italy; More
Three Added To Cast Of Susanne Bier’s ‘A Second Chance’
Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Maria Bonnevie and Ulrich Thomsen have joined the cast of Susanne Bier’s A Second Chance. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau stars in the film, which focuses on how far decent human beings are willing to go when tragedy blurs the line between the just and unjust. Shooting is underway in Denmark. Lie Kaas stars in the current No. 1 film at the Danish box office, The Keeper Of Lost Causes. He’s next up in Child 44. Thomsen, from Cinemax’s Banshee, has previously worked with Bier in Brothers and A Better World. Swedish-Norwegian actress Maria Bonnevie’s recently starred in Belle Du Seigneur with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Marianne Faithful. TrustNordisk kicked off international sales on the Danish-language A Second Chance during the AFM.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Christopher Lee To Receive BFI Fellowship; FremantleMedia Int’l Inks Digital Deal With China’s Youku; More
Christopher Lee To Receive 2013 BFI Fellowship
Sir Christopher Lee will be this year’s recipient of the BFI Fellowship. The organization’s highest honor will be presented October 19during the awards ceremony for the BFI London Film Festival. The Fellowship is in recognition of outstanding contribution to film or television. Last year there was a double recipient in the form of Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter. Lee, who was knighted in 2009, has more than 250 acting credits — from his feature debut in 1948 with Corridor Of Mirrors to Hammer Films’ Dracula and The Lord Of The Rings‘ trilogy. The BFI will screen several of Lee’s most iconic performances during its upcoming Gothic season. The BFI today also announced juries for the London Film Festival. The nascent competitive section will be judged by film critic and journalist Phillip French, director Lone Scherfig, visual artist Stan Douglas, actress Miranda Richardson, author Deborah Moggach, and cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto.
FremantleMedia International Inks With China’s Youku
FremantleMedia International announced Monday a multiyear digital deal with the China-headquartered portal Youku. The agreement will see a variety of FremantleMedia’s premium entertainment and drama content available to online audiences averaging 14 million unique users a day. More than 200 hours of programming will be available on Youku in the first year including recent seasons of American Idol ,The X Factor USA, America’s Got Talent, Project Runway and The Celebrity Apprentice and season 13.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Intouchables’ Helmers Gear Up For ‘Samba’; BAFTA To Host Life In Pictures With Tom Hanks; More
‘Intouchables’ Helmers Set To Begin Production On ‘Samba’
The Intouchables helmers Eric Tolédano and Olivier Nakache will begin shooting their next film, Samba, at the end of October. Omar Sy, Best Actor César winner for Intouchables, stars in the social comedy alongside Charlotte Gainsbourg (Nymphomaniac, Melancholia), Tahar Rahim (The Past, A Prophet) and Izya Higelin. French major Gaumont is co-producing with Intouchables‘ Quad Productions. Gaumont will handle French distribution and sell the film internationally as it did with Tolédano and Nakache’s 2011 mega box office hit. Delivery is expected at the end of 2014.
Putting its stamp of approval on streaming, the British Film Institute is getting into the VOD business. Its new BFI Player will offer both day-and-date releases and a selection of the vast archives at its disposal. Seven channels will showcase different themes including the best of British cinema, Edwardian Britain, gothic films, cult cinema, Sight and Sound’s greatest hits and movies about moviemaking. The service is available across the UK from October 9th with playback available to computers and tablets. The offer is a mix of free and PPV and will be expanded with new content partners in a phase two effort in early 2014. The first day-and-date releases are Directors’ Fortnight title The Selfish Giant on October 25th and the BFI restoration of The Epic Of Everest, which is debuting at the London Film Festival, on October 18th. The latter is a record of the doomed 3rd expedition of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine in 1924 and is considered to be a treasure of the BFI national film archive. Here’s a look:
Global Showbiz Briefs: Mundial To Sell ‘Wolf At The Door’; BFI Hires Tricia Tuttle For Festivals; Venice Lauds Andrzej Wajda; More
Mundial Grabs Sales For Kidnap Drama ‘A Wolf At The Door’
Mundial, the joint venture from IM Global and Canana, has boarded international sales on Brazilian title A Wolf At The Door. Written and directed by first-time feature helmer Fernando Coimbra, the dark suspense pic centers on the distraught parents of a kidnapped child. Leandra Leal (Cazuza: Time Doesn’t Stop), Milhem Cortaz (Elite Squad) and Fabíula Nascimento (Estomago: A Gastronomic story) star in the film which bows in Toronto.
BFI Taps Tricia Tuttle As Deputy Head Of Festivals
Tricia Tuttle has been named to the newly created role of deputy head of festivals for the BFI, responsible for delivering the annual programs for the BFI London Film Festival and the BFI Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. She will manage a team of programmers and program advisors to increase audience reach, attendance, participation and satisfaction and ensure cultural and commercial objectives are achieved. Tuttle previously was senior manager for film and skills at BAFTA.
UK films brought in $5.3B at the global box office, according to findings published today in the British Film Institute‘s annual Statistical Yearbook. The figure reps a 15% share of the world market and is the third-highest on record. The performance on British movies was led by James Bond pic Skyfall, the No. 1 film of all time in the UK at £103M loocally and $1.1B worldwide. Total UK box office was £1.1B. Admissions, however, were up only a half a percentage point, hampered by distractions that included the Queen’s Jubilee, the Summer Olympics and the Euro 2012 soccer tournament.
On the audience front, people 45 and over made up 36% of moviegoers. The now dominant demographic reflects a trend towards films made for and marketed to older audiences. Top among those titles last year were Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Anna Karenina. Younger audiences declined with the 15-24 age group decreasing from 31% in 2011 to 25% of the total in 2012. Marigold Hotel also led indie exports, taking $135M internationally, followed by The Woman In Black with $128M. Total UK film exports were worth £1.7B.
The British Film Institute has released box office and production stats for the UK in 2012 that offer up a mix of good, bad and unsurprising news. Box office was up just a touch after being dented by summer events that turned attention away from the multiplex. At the same time, investment from abroad dropped drastically after a record 2011 that included the shoots of The Dark Knight Rises, Dark Shadows, Skyfall, Prometheus, Snow White And The Huntsman, World War Z and Wrath Of The Titans.
The overall UK spend of features that started production in 2012 was £927M ($1.47B), a 29% drop on 2011’s record-breaking £1.29B. A total of 26 so-called inward investment movies, including Warner Bros.’ All You Need Is Kill, Red 2 for Lionsgate/Summit, Paramount’s Jack Ryan and Universal’s Fast And Furious 6 and Kick Ass 2, contributed £631M compared to the 34 films in 2011 which spent £1B. Simon Oakes, producer of 2012′s top indie, Woman In Black, thinks the trend is cyclical. “I don’t think this is a forever stat. We’ll probably see this year that it will come back up again. Look, if there was an intention not to spend money by the U.S. studios in the UK, Warner Bros. wouldn’t have spent money on Leavesden,” Oakes tells me about the £100M+ Warner invested on a London-adjacent studio facility after the end of the Harry Potter franchise.
The British Film Institute has earmarked up to £2.5M ($4M) of Lottery funding for its Vision Awards initiative through 2015. The grants will provide up to £200K over two years to a maximum of 15 production companies for investment in slate development. The project is part of the BFI’s recently launched five-year Film Forever plan to foster growth in the UK film biz and keep momentum going after a strong series of local films. Calling the Awards “crucial” to the future, BFI Film Fund director Ben Roberts said today, “Development is the lifeblood of the UK film industry, but it’s risky and private money to support development is scarce. That’s why the BFI’s role as the UK’s biggest investor in film development is so vital.” Eligible companies must be experienced producers with at least one production credit on a fiction, documentary or animation feature that has been distributed theatrically in the UK and screened internationally in the last five years. More detail is available at www.bfi.org.uk/visionawards.
A new study finds that British film contributes over £4.6B to UK GDP and more than £1.3B to the government. The Economic Impact of the UK Film Industry report, commissioned every two years by the British Film Institute and Pinewood Shepperton, notably shows the UK film industry directly employs almost 44,000 people, up from 36,000 in 2009. That’s more than are found in both the fund management and pharmaceutical manufacturing sectors. The median salary for film and TV workers is about $63,000. However, the report acknowledges there is a risk of highly-skilled workers taking their talent abroad if things like compensation, taxes and opportunities don’t remain competitive. The study further highlights the importance of the Film Tax Relief, warning that without the incentives, UK production would be a staggering 71% smaller.
Pinewood chief exec Ivan Dunleavy said: “The trends show that we’re performing well, relative to today’s economic climate. We can do more though. We now need to look at how to enable further investment in infrastructure and how to build on the UK’s growing international reputation to boost exports. By making gains in these areas film can provide more jobs and help play our part in bringing growth to the UK economy.”
Davis joined the British Film Institute in April last year as senior executive of international for the Film Fund. In an expanded role, she’ll become head of international, leading the org’s ambitions for UK film abroad. New duties will include oversight of all international activity at the BFI including inward investment, film export, policy and strategy. She will remain on the Film Fund’s editorial team, tracking talent and projects and will continue to represent the UK’s co-producing interests. The Fund currently has a budget of £18M which will jump to £24M by 2017. Since April last year, it’s invested in such films as Mike Newell’s Great Expectations, Neil Jordan’s Byzantium and Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths, all of which just debuted in Toronto. International investment from films made in the UK in 2011 was just over £1B while British films earned $5.6B at the global box office. Back in January, Prime Minister David Cameron called on the BFI to “incentivize UK producers to chase new markets both here and overseas” as the industry seeks to keep momentum going in the wake of the Harry Potter series’ end.
Alfred Hitchcock‘s 45th film has moved ahead of Orson Welles’ 1941 classic — at least according to the latest Sight & Sound poll conducted once a decade for the British Film Institute. Citizen Kane, which Hitchcock’s 1958 thriller surpassed by 34 votes out of 846 cast, is No. 2 on the list of 50 posted today (more will be posted in the weeks ahead). A decade ago Kane and Vertigo were separated by only 5 votes. Even so, Kane‘s total tally this time was three times as large as the number of votes it received last time so Welles wasn’t exactly snubbed. Out of more than 1,000 critics, programmers, academics, distributors, writers and other cinephiles contacted for the survey, Sight & Sound received 846 Top 10 lists that among them mention 2,045 different films. The new survey also enjoyed greater participation than its six predecessors. The remaining movies in order of the BFI’s Top 10 are Ozu Yasujiro’s Tokyo Story (1953), Jean Renoir’s La Regle Du Jeu (1939) and F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise (1927), Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), John Ford’s The Searchers (1956), Dziga Vertov’s Man With A Movie Camera (1939), Carl Dreyer’s The Passion Of Joan Of Arc (1927) and Federico Fellini’s 8½ (1963).
Although the Harry Potter series has drawn to a close, the UK film industry believes the movies will continue to work their magic for years to come. In releasing its 2012 statistical yearbook today, the BFI pointed to long tail benefits from the Potter decade that include Warner Bros’ new studio facility at Leavesden and the skillbase the films have built across the production sector since 2001. The industry is coming off of a record year that saw the box office reach above £1B and total production spend hit £1.27B despite a drop in the number of films produced. The yearbook is loaded with such facts and figures – including the finding that Britons watched an average 87 films per person during the course of last year. However, while box office thrived, TV accounted for 77% of all film viewings. There were 5,570 unique titles available across UK television. Excluding pay-per-view, films were watched 3.9B times on TV – or over 22 times the number of cinema admissions. Stats put the industry’s direct contribution to UK GDP at £3.3B for 2010. International investment from films made in the UK including The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus and Wrath Of The Titans, was worth just over £1B. Outside the UK, British films earned $5.6B at the global box office, according to the report which can be found here in its entirety.
Independent British films had 13% of the market share driven by The King’s Speech and The Inbetweeners Movie. Cinemagoing habits are shifting with a record-breaking 42% of Britons opting for weekday screenings. Weekends only accounted for 58% of box office which is the lowest total in the last eight years. Takings for 3D films were down 20% suggesting that moviegoers are becoming more choosy. The BFI says people are more often opting for the format when they perceive a real contribution to the experience. DVD and Blu-ray sales were down 5% on 2010 with 152M units sold. VOD is on the rise, jumping 6.5% to £114M in transactions, although it hasn’t yet made up for the decline in video sales.
A select committee investigating alleged tax avoidance will question BBC finance executives next week about some of its highly-paid, high-profile employees, The Guardian reports. More than 3,000 BBC staff are paid through arrangements that allow them to avoid individual income tax by setting up personal service companies which pay low rates of corporation tax instead. Committee chair Margaret Hodge said she had called the BBC “because we understand they have a huge number of people who are being paid through personal companies and we need to understand whether this is tax avoidance or a legitimate business practice.” The committee is mostly concerned with staff earning more than £100K a year and whether they are on-air talent. “I have got a very simple principle here: if you earn your wage on the back of the taxpayers, and they do in effect because they get their money from the license fee, you have a moral imperative to lead by example,” said Hodge. Thorny tax issues are all the rage these days in Britain. Last month, The Times reported that Revenue and Customs (the UK’s IRS) had 600 film schemes under inquiry as it believes “billions
The 56th BFI London Film Festival is set to run from October 10-21, organizers announced this morning. Screenings and venues will increase this year, although the fest itself is running four days shorter than usual. Along with its major central locations in Leicester Square and BFI Southbank, the fest is expanding to 4 new regional London cinemas in Hackney, Bloomsbury, Islington and the oh-so-hip Shoreditch. All venues will see a jump in primetime and weekend screenings. BFI Head of Exhibition and Festival Director Clare Stewart, says, “The BFI London Film Festival is one of the jewels in the capital’s cultural crown and we want to ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to experience it.” Deadline for short film entries is June 22, features deadline is July 6.