Ernst & Young Warns British Film, TV Biz On Corruption And Bribery Risks Abroad

By | Monday October 29, 2012 @ 6:07am PDT

Earlier this month, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office said it would toughen its stance on bribery, meaning criminal penalties could become more commonplace. Today, Ernst & Young warns that the next front for enforcers could be the British film and television industries as companies increasingly work in emerging markets, and says the business should “heed corruption and bribery risks in financing and making films abroad.” The report notes that “In the U.S., enforcers have begun to ask questions of studios about potential bribery of foreign officials showing the extent of filmmaking’s exposure to such risks.” In April, the U.S. majors received letters of inquiry from the SEC regarding their China dealings, although it is considered unlikely the Hollywood studios are involved in any wrongdoing.

In the U.S., there are training exercises in place to teach employees the ins and outs of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. But in the UK, whereas oil and gas industry employees “have a mindset to fight corruption,” the report says, “it may not yet be ingrained in the entertainment industry” which is becoming more and more international. UK filmmakers received a funding boost this year which promotes inward investment, foreign exports and gives priority to bolstering growth and relations with Brazil and China, forming part of the basis for the E&Y bulletin.

E&Y partner Jonathan Middup said: “Film and TV making is particularly exposed to bribery and corruption risk. Films are shot all over the world and in some cases they are in countries where corruption is commonplace. There is a lot of cash being used and there is a need to get access to areas closed to the public, creating a lot of potential touch points with local governments or even the military.” In some countries, how one accesses those things can run afoul of UK law even though they might be accepted practices in the country in question. Read More »

Comments (1)

Global Showbiz Briefs: Indonesia, UK

By | Tuesday December 6, 2011 @ 11:48pm PST

Cinema 21 To Open Two Imax Theatres In Jakarta
Imax Corp. and Indonesian exhibitor Cinema 21 have agreed to install a pair of digital Imax theatres in Jakarta, Indonesia. The first system is scheduled for May 2012 at Gandaria City, South … Read More »

Comments (0)

F&ME Boards Child Prostitution Exposé

By | Thursday September 23, 2010 @ 5:27am PDT

The UK’s most prolific producer, currently developing Aishwarya Rai project Spy Princess, has teamed up with Dutch director Jacco Groen’s Spring Films and Netherlands-based producer Jos van der Pal’s AV-motion pictures to make €1.5 … Read More »

Comments (0)

Working Title: Why UK’s Most Successful Film Production Company Is Back In Its Wheelhouse

Over the past 16 years, Working Title has made Britain’s biggest-ever movies including Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Bean. The company headed by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner is responsible for 96 films grossing $4.8 billion worldwide, 60% of which came from Universal’s 46 Working Title releases. (Working Title started off indie until 1992 when it was acquired by Polygram until 1999 when Universal bought Polygram and with it, Working Title.) Its movies have won six Oscars, 26 Baftas and prizes at Cannes and Berlin. Forget Korda. Ignore Puttnam. Bevan and Fellner are easily Britain’s most successful cinema magnates. Yet something almost always goes wrong every time they veer away from Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson, who are responsible for nine out of the top 10 highest-grossing Working Title films. There also has been a succession of political films and expensive thrillers. When it comes to deciding what to make, Bevan says everything starts with passion. So A Serious ManUnited 93, Elizabeth:The Golden Age, Burn After Reading, and The Interpreter put him in business with big stars or big directors or both. “These are A-list people that most producers would kill to work with. More than that, they feed your mind,” Bevan told me in a recent interview. It was Fellner and Bevan who gave Joe Wright a huge break and $28 million to direct Keira Knightley in 2005′s Pride and Prejudice, which made $121 million in worldwide box office gross and resulted in 4 Oscar nods for Focus Features/Universal. But Universal lost $50 million on Paul Greengrass directing Matt Damon in 2010′s underperforming Green Zone after its gross budget swelled from $80 million to $130 million (not including tax incentives).

“The last batch of movies represented them breaking free of the Working Title formula,” says one producer who’s worked with them. “In Hollywood, you’re judged by how you’ve just done, not what you’ve made over the years. So they’ve gone back to the formulaic stuff. It’s depressing.” Still, retreating “back in their wheelhouse”, as the American phrase goes, is also smart business. For now, Working Title is playing it safer. Indian Summer, a big budget movie about the last days of Britain’s colonial rule of India in 1947, has been dry-docked even though Joe Wright (Atonement) was set to direct Cate Blanchett as Lady Edwina Mountbatten. As Bevan says in an interview with me, “You don’t produce a misfire and then not take heed from it.” Fellner adds: “It’s a consolidation period for us. A retrenchment period.” To that end, Working Title made six staff redundant in July last year, reducing headcount to around 40, which is historically what it’s always been.

Working Title’s latest release is the sequel to Emma Thompson’s Nanny McPhee Returns which Universal releases August 20th. Upcoming projects include Johnny English Reborn starring Rowan Atkinson and Gillian Anderson, as well as the Richard Curtis comedy Lost For Words, and a third Bridget Jones movie. The first Johnny English, which cost $40 million to make, earned just $28 million in America but did enormous business internationally grossing $132 million overseas. That’s typical: Working Title movies routinely make 2/3s of their gross outside of North America. Bevan tells me, “The thing that always sets us apart is that we’ve always done so well in the international marketplace. If there’s going to be any growth in this business, it’s going to be outside of North America.” And yet, waiting for Bevan and Fellner in their office building, I realize that Working Title has always struck me as being intensely London — as much a part of the city as red double-decker buses, Trafalgar Square, and pigeons. Even its logo used to look like the symbol for London Underground.

When Bevan and Fellner first sat down with then Universal CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr in 1998, Read More »

Comments (11)

Handmade Films Backers Buy It Back

By | Thursday July 22, 2010 @ 8:04am PDT

handmade_films_logoJersey-based investors who put up the money for Planet 51, which Sony released last year, have bought Handmade Films for £6.1 million ($9.3 million). Handmade was selling the Spanish/UK co-production. The company has now delisted from the London Stock Exchange. Wealth … Read More »

Comments (6)

Michelle Ryan Goes Back To Her Roots

Michelle_RyanEXCLUSIVE: The former UK soap EastEnders star, who went on to become the Bionic Woman, is set to return to the East End. She’s in negotiations to appear in Turnout, a low-budget Brit love story set in east London. This micro-budget … Read More »

Comments (7)

UK Movie Spend Falls By 11% In First Half

Bel_AmiTotal amount spent on UK feature films fell to £643 million (982 million) in the first six months of 2010. This compares with £726 million between January and June last year. The £643 million figure is still the second highest on … Read More »

Comments (2)