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.” Read 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. Read 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. Read 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. Read More »
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, … Read 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. Read More »
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. Read More »
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. Read More »
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 … Read More »
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.” Read More »
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 … Read More »
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 … Read More »
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. Read More »
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 Read More »
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 … Read More »
The British Film Institute today laid out its five-year plan for the future of UK film funding and how it proposes to invest an expected total of £273M in Lottery money from 2012-2017. The org said £28.2M will go towards supporting British film on an annual basis, including an increase in production and development funds of 30% over the next five years. At the same time, the UK government has announced steps it’s taking to bolster the UK biz. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said the British Film Commission will create a strategic partnership with the UK Trade & Investment body and the BFI to provide an additional £400,000 to the BFC’s budget.
The announcements were made today in response to a UK film policy review that was published in January and which notably called for a “reward for success” scheme. The idea being that BFI development funds should be returned to companies who’ve used them successfully and then be reinvested in future projects. The BFI has confirmed that Lottery investment will be restructured to reward success while the government said the group will set up a cross-industry task force charged with examining ways in which the business can reduce overall dependency on public funding. Read More »
The British Film Insititute is stumping £150,000 in P&A support to trot out classic Oscar winner Chariots Of Fire. The 31-year-old film’s theatrical run will begin throughout the UK on July 13 with a digitally remastered print. Fox, an original backer, has been helping in the effort to re-release the 1981 Best Picture winner about a pair of runners who make it to the 1924 Olympics despite religious obstacles. Ben Cross, Ian Charleson and Ian Holm starred in the Hugh Hudson-directed and David Puttnam-produced picture. Holm won the best supporting actor Palme d’Or in Cannes when the film premiered there. Later, Chariots also won the 1981 Oscar for Colin Welland’s screenplay, Milena Canonero’s costume design and Vangelis’ ubiquitous original score. A full press release follows: Read More »
This is a kind of cool case of serendipity: The Death Of Poor Joe is a 1901 UK production, directed by G.A. Smith, and was uncovered the day after the British Film Institute celebrated the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth. Silent film curator Bryony Dixon made the discovery and her research shows it’s the earliest film made featuring a Dickensian character. Prior to now, the earliest known Dickens film was Scrooge or Marley’s Ghost released later in 1901. Conducting unrelated research, Dixon came across a catalogue entry referring to The Death Of Poor Joe and thought the title might be a reference to the character in Dickens’ Bleak House. The film existed in the BFI’s collections, but had previously been listed under the title Man Meets Ragged Boy and wrongly dated c1902. The one-minute film is said to be in excellent condition and will screen as an addition to the BFI’s program of Dickens’ pre-1914 shorts. It came into the BFI collection in 1954 as part of a group of films from a collector in Brighton who had known the director. Read More »