The UK emerged in 2013 as an increasingly attractive location destination with new and expanded tax credits – but can it stand the bulge? Hollywood has cozied up to Britain, not only bringing its films there to shoot, but now its TV programs while it also continues to plumb it as a source of original drama to be remade in the U.S. Across the Channel, after a wake-up call in the waning days of 2012 by France‘s influential Vincent Maraval of Wild Bunch, the local industry spent 2013 debating its rich subsidy system that’s spent big (too big?) on talent. Germany‘s local share of the box office is expected to be down for 2013, only slightly, but it’s been fertile ground for the studios working in local language. Meanwhile, Olympics host Russia is seeing its star rise while Italy and Spain are still undergoing financial woes. And yet, nothing seems rotten in the state of Denmark where the box office is top heavy with local films and a new drama series could be the Danes’ answer to Downton Abbey. Here’s a look back at 2013 and some glimpses of what 2014 may hold:
The British government has strongly backed the film and television business by increasing tax breaks this year. But in so doing, has it backed the industry into a corner? Arguably one of the biggest stories out of the UK in … Read More »
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 »
With $1.8B in box office as of last week, Universal Pictures International has already been enjoying a record-breaking 2013. It’s added another feather to its cap today with word that Despicable Me 2 has become the highest-grossing film of the year in the UK. The Universal and Illumination Entertainment blockbuster has been in British theaters for seven weeks and has grossed £42.67M ($66.78M), overtaking Universal’s own Les Misérables ($63.84M), for the No. 1 spot. It’s now the 4th biggest animation release of all time in the UK behind Toy Story 3 (£73.97M), Shrek 2 (£48.24M) and Toy Story 2 (£44.3M). Internationally, Despicable Me 2 has grossed $435.2M to date and is the third highest-grossing film of the year both abroad and worldwide. Universal’s Fast & Furious 6 is No. 2.
Canadian investment groups OMERS Private Equity and Alberta Investment Management Corporation will pay £935M ($1.45B) for pan-European multiplex operator Vue Entertainment. Vue’s current owner, private equity firm Doughty Hanson, acquired the group in 2010 for £450M and expanded its holdings at home and abroad with the acquisitions of Britain’s Apollo Cinemas, Germany’s CinemaxX, and, most recently, Poland’s Multikino. The company now has 146 cinemas and 1,321 screens. The transaction is expected to close by late July. Vue founder and CEO, Tim Richards, will stay with the business.
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 Jakarta and the second by 2013. Cinema 21 president Suryo Suherman welcomed the addition of Imax installations, and Imax CEO Richard Gelfond noted that with 36% of Indonesia’s population of 240 million between the ages of 15 and 40 “we believe there is a strong demand for Hollywood’s largest blockbusters to be presented in our immersive format.” The two installations mark the first commercial Imax theatres in Indonesia. Cinema 21 is the largest cinema chain in Indonesia and South East Asia with 571 screens in 31 cities all over Indonesia.
UK Call Sheet Looks To Link Crew To Jobs
A new website has bowed in the UK with the aim of revolutionizing the way those who toil behind the camera find work. Thecallsheet.co.uk database will bring together freelancers, production companies and facilities companies to match availability to job openings. To qualify as a member, those seeking work must have at least 10 credits or two years of industry experience (unreleased or short films are not accepted). Those approved will have access to job listings from UK producers and recruiters as well as a chase list, an online diary system and other … Read More »
The big Netflix news will come later today, when the company releases its third-quarter earnings. That’s expected to include data on just how many subscribers fled the company after its recent public relations disaster that included a surprise fee hike, splitting off its streaming service from its DVD-by-mail service and then putting them back together again. For the year, Netflix’s stock is down by a third. Meanwhile, this morning’s news officially continues the company’s international expansion. Here’s the release:
LOS GATOS, Calif., Oct. 24, 2011 — Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), the leading global Internet movie subscription service, today announced it will expand to the United Kingdom and Ireland in early 2012, offering unlimited TV shows and movies streaming instantly over the Internet to TVs and computers for one low monthly subscription price.
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Sequels do especially well overseas, and Universal’s street-car racing franchise is scoring. Thursday’s previews of Fast Five in the UK at 416 locations grossed an estimated $2.1 million in the first day. The pic is No. 1 with 46% market share. It’s Universal’s biggest Thursday previews in history and in the Top 8 Thursday previews of all time — bigger than previews for Iron Man and Iron Man 2 and The Bourne Ultimatum. Fast Five also opened in Korea today at 239 locations to become No. 1 with 35% market share — twice as big as the franchise’s fourquel Fast & Furious with total previews grossing $570K. It’s also No. 1 in New Zealand with 40% market share and an opening-day gross of $260K at 55 locations. The total estimated grosses thus far including its No. 1 status in Australia are $7 million.