UK seeks ways to create own golden age of cinema

Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:38am EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - The British government has urged its national broadcasters and audiences to get behind the country's film industry to promote a cultural brand on a par with Hollywood and French cinema and maintain its current golden run of box office success.

British cinema has enjoyed a string of hits in recent years, from "Slumdog Millionaire" to "The King's Speech," and a government-appointed panel set out on Monday how it intended to maintain that form during the tough economic environment.

The review calls for British broadcasters to help fund and show British films; for financial support for a wide range of movies ranging from the small art-house movies to blockbusters and the reinvestment of profits into the industry to generate further success.

British Prime Minister David Cameron sparked controversy last week when he suggested that the British movie industry should focus on box office success rather than critical acclaim.

The movie industry is worth an estimated 4.2 billion pounds ($6.42 billion)to the British economy each year, but much of that comes from blockbusters like the Harry Potter franchise that are often bankrolled by Hollywood studios.

Independent British films had a share at the box office of just 5.5 percent between 2001 and 2010.

Film makers argue however that they cannot predict how successful a film will be until it has hit the screens and that they do not wish to merely recreate Hollywood-style movies in a hunt for financial success.

The government-appointed panel appeared to agree on Monday, saying it would look to support as many films as possible.

"British film is going through something of a golden period," the report said. "A run of really good, successful, British-made and British-based movies has been taking not just British cinema audiences but many others around the world by storm.   Continued...