British film industry boomed in 2011

Record-breaking £1bn spent at UK cinemas thanks to homegrown hits including Harry Potter, The Inbetweeners and The King's Speech

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It’s official: we love films, we love British ones and we’re putting our money where our mouths are. Last year the UK cinema box office took in over £1bn and eight of the top 20 highest-grossing films were made here. Total ticket sales were 171.6m, a rise of 1.4 per cent from 2010, but higher ticket prices meant takings grew five per cent year on year.

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British Film Institute director, Amanda Neville, whose organisation compiled the figures, said: “As we enter 2012, many challenges remain but today’s figures clearly show that keeping audiences at the heart of everything we do will help the British film industry to enjoy even greater success in the future and continue to be an important contributor to the UK economy.”

The BFI reports that the final box office tally for 2011 was £1.04bn and that movies filmed here or produced by UK firms took £362m, up from approximately £240m the year before. 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, filmed in Britain, was the single highest-grossing film in the UK last year with takings of £73m. To date the most successful film in UK cinema history is Avatar, which took £94m in 2009, but Harry Potter almost equals the second most successful, which was Toy Story 3 with £73.8m last year.

Industry sources estimate that the budget for the final Harry Potter film was around £80m meaning it came close to covering all of its production costs in the UK alone. But far smaller scale films, such as The King’s Speech, did comparatively better: that took in £45.7m in the UK and is estimated to have cost £15m to make.

TV spin-off The Inbetweeners Movie took a similar £45m but that is believed to have had only a £3.5m budget.

In addition to cinemagoers supporting British films, investment in UK production rose as well, to £1.26bn, from £1.25bn in 2010.

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It’s not only British film-makers who have made money from the movie industry in 2011: location filming in the UK brought millions of pounds in revenue to companies and councils around the nation. Glasgow city council alone reports that city earned £20m from film companies in 2011, including £3.3m from the Brad Pitt zombie thriller World War Z.