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Industry Report: Market Trends

Only a small fraction of British films turn a profit, BFI study finds


Only a small fraction of British films turn a profit, BFI study finds

Just 7% of UK films in the period 2003-2010 made a profit, according to figures presented by the BFI's David Steele at the Screen Film Summit.

The figures chart the performance of 613 films. They paint a damning portrait of British film, particularly low-budget productions: just 3.1% of films with budgets of £500,000 or less became profitable. But even at the higher end, there seem to be endemic problems, with well under a fifth of films with budgets of more than £10m turning a profit. Steele said he was "fairly confident" of the accuracy of his numbers.

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"What does one do faced with those sorts of numbers?" asked Steele. "Clearly, portfolio investment is necessary to negate the risk and secondly, qualitative judgement. Try to choose filmmakers' projects that have above average chance of making a profit. Some can do that better than others."

His remarks are part of a wider shift towards risk aversion from the Britishfilm industry, who were encouraged last year by David Cameron to make more commercial films, following comments in 2010 where he encouraged more Harry Potter-style franchises that would boost tourism as well as ticket sales.

Cameron has been joined by BFI CEO Amanda Nevill on a trip to China this week along with other industry delegates, to strengthen the British film industry's presence there as its appetite for western product grows. "In the most rapidly growing part of the world economy we are underpowered so something has to be done, like trade delegations to China, to crack those markets," said Steele. "There are considerable institutional barriers to be overcome as well as marketing barriers."

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