The first official glimpse of the pandemic’s impact on U.K. film and television production, British Film Institute (BFI) data reveals that film and high-end television production spend exceeded £2.84 billion ($3.9 billion) in 2020, only 21% down compared to 2019’s statistics.
According to the BFI, 2020 started strongly and had been heading towards a record production spend for the first quarter of the year. But by the end of March, around the beginning of the first lockdown, productions have been suspended, leaving only VFX and animation able to continue.
Physical production started to continue from mid-July. With COVID-19 filming protocols in place, sanctioned by the U.K. government, the final quarter of the year saw a strong resumption in production activity, generating a £1.19 billion spend ($1.62 billion), 38% higher than the previous three months and the second-highest quarterly result on record.
In total across 2020, film production reached £1.36 billion ($1.85 billion) thanks to major studio titles such as “The Batman”, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3”, “Jurassic World: Dominion”, and “The Little Mermaid”. On the other hand, spend on high-end TV — including shows like “The Witcher” and “Sex Education” — hit £1.49 billion, only 11 percent down from 2019.
“After an unbelievably tough year, today’s figures show an incredibly vibrant and positive picture for film and TV in the U.K.,” – said BFI chief executive Ben Roberts. “Last spring it was hard to imagine that we would be generating £1 billion worth of production activity in the final quarter which has been achieved by industry and government pulling together and the determination of our workforce to get back up and running”
Roberts added: “This sector is primed to grow with expansion underway in studios and production hot spots across the U.K., delivering more jobs and more to the economy. It’s been a challenging year for cinemas but we remain optimistic for the day when we can welcome back audiences and it’s brilliant to see some of the U.K.’s greatest talent making big pictures such as 1917 which topped the box office before the pandemic hit.”