British films grab 15 percent of '08 global box office

Thu Jul 16, 2009 11:14am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - British films accounted for nearly one in six movie viewings at cinemas around the world in 2008, according to the UK Film Council.

The industry group said total revenues from domestic films, which include Hollywood studio productions with significant British input, rose to $4.2 billion last year, nearly $1 billion higher than in 2007.

Cinema admissions in Britain also edged higher to 164.2 million from 162.4 million in 2007, suggesting that the movie industry has been relatively resilient to the economic downturn as it was in recent decades.

"Whatever the trend was at the particular time, the recession didn't seem to make a significant impact," said David Steele, head of research at the council.

"It is unlikely the recession will have a bad impact on the box office," he told reporters. "It started booming even more from October 2008, as if people were saying, we're going to the cinema to escape the grim reality of economic life."

Box office receipts in 2008 reached 850 million pounds ($1.40 billion), a 3.5 percent increase on the year before. By the end of June, 2009, box office numbers were up 22 percent on the same point in 2008.

But the DVD film market looks set to take "a bit of a hammering" in 2009 having held up last year, Steele said, adding that the closure of retail outlets and the economic downturn had contributed to an eight percent fall so far in 2009.

Film budgets are also coming under pressure, with the average budget for UK domestic films falling to 3.3 million pounds in the first half of 2009 from 5.6 million in 2003.   Continued...