The damning study could signal change for the British film industry
A recent study by the British Film Institute has revealed the extent to which British films consistently fail to turn a profit. The findings show that a mere 7% of UK films between 2003 and 2010 made a profit in a damning expose of the country’s proud industry.
Naomie Watts in Diana
The worst in terms of fiscal return were low-budget projects; only 3.1% of films with budgets of £500,000 or less became profitable, while at the other end of the spectrum, under a fifth of films with budgets of more than £10m turned a profit, according to the findings, which were presented by the BFI's David Steele at the Screen Film Summit.
Steele posed the question: "What does one do faced with those sorts of numbers? 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." (Guardian)
One of the more high-profile failures of that studied period was Diana, which failed spectacularly at the box office. But, the Oliver Hirschbiegel-directed film suffered from dangerously negative reviews (it scored 8% on Rotten Tomatoes) and wasn’t representative of the endemic problems with British cinema.
With British film usually shown domestically, meaning, shown on a relatively small island, it’s difficult to imagine many British films - apart from the quasi-British films like Harry Potter and James Bond – cracking the international market, which is something Steele thinks needs to change as soon as possible.
“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," he explained. "There are considerable institutional barriers to be overcome as well as marketing barriers."