5 questions facing the UK movie industry in 2019

March 21, 2019 3:35 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

What will be the impact of Brexit?

Despite the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit (will we, won’t we…) the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union (EU) at 11pm (GMT) on Friday, 29 March 2019. One question that remains unanswered and unclear – how will this affect the UK film industry?

Brexit will bring with new opportunities regarding trade and cultural collaboration, as well as a significant reduction in demand from European distributors and broadcasters

Since the “leave vote” in June 2016, the British Pound has remained weak, bringing with it a significant challenge for UK based film businesses that have regular work around the continent. However, on the flip side – this represents an opportunity for inward investment whereby companies take advantage of the exchange rate. It will be interesting to see if the UK can keep up with demand which saw spending on UK film and TV production record a new high of ¬£1.9m in 2017.

There’s an interesting page over on the British Film Institute website, which has published a Q&A about what Brexit will mean for the UK’s screen sectors.

What will be the outcome of the ongoing distribution shake-up?

There was a lot of change in 2018 for UK film distribution. According to ComScore, the US dominates the UK Box Office with over 84% of box office receipts, leaving independent distribution companies scrapping over the remaining 16%; including home entertainment returns.

We saw the end of Icon Film Distribution in early 2018, which sold it’s library to Kaleidoscope. This saw the start of a disappearance of the traditional middle distributor, as the larger independent organisations struggled to cover their significant overheads. On top of this, Alex Hamilton leaves e-ONE (president) this month (March 2019), signalling a shift of focus from single picture distribution and acquisitions to development and production. Further, Studiocanal’s head of distribution Danny Perkins left the company to focus on his own production-focused ventures and Arrow Films’ acquisitions director Tom Stewart left to leave the company re-thinking their theatrical strategy.

However, there has been a number of new start ups.

  • Former Soda Pictures founder Eve Gabereau launch Modern Films,
  • Arrows Stewart launched Parkland Entertainment,
  • Blue Finch Films was launched by former Kaleidoscope executive Mike Chapman, together with sales executive Simon Crowe and financier Matthew Joynes,
  • 606 Distribution was launched by film maker and actor Pat Kelman, together with acquisition and level executive David Maddison.

Will the UK have a better representation at Cannes in 2019?

Looking back at Cannes (2018), the UK and Irish movie showing was a total of 4 titles in the Official Selection and the only Competition representation was with Cold War.

Although there was a strong representation at both Toronto and Venice festivals, including the titles: The Favourite, In Fabric, Gwen and Out of Blue….

With Cannes remaining the pre-eminent showcase for international film making, film makers will want to have a greater representation in 2019 than it did in 2018 for sure.

Will NETFLIX and other streamers expand their presence within the UK?

In 2018, NETFLIX moved in to a new, larger office to run its London operations. However, there has been reports that the streaming giant is looking to set up a production hub at the UK’s Pinewood Studios. This would make sense, as NETFLIX have already had a number of big-budget film and TV productions within the UK. Other than NETFLIX, Apple have hired former BBC Films executive Joe Oppenheimer as a London-based creative exec, potentially to oversee an increase in UK based activity.

Can the brilliant UK Box Office of 2018 be sustained for 2019?

UK cinema admissions increased in 2018, to a level that wasn’t seen since 1971. This was boosted by titles such as Avengers: Infinity War, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Incredibles 2, and Black Panther. 2019 sees a number of great titles coming to the big screen that could return and sustain the big box office numbers, including Shazam!, Avengers: End Game, The Lion King, Aladdin, Frozen 2, Dumbo, Toy Story 4… to name just a few! These are all expected to do well at the box office. With Disney behind (incl. Fox titles!), this indicates that the mouse studio is likely to have another great year.

The chart below shows the box office admissions from 2002 to 2019.

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This post was written by noxford

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