2009 was a bumper year for UK cinema with the box office the biggest it has been since 2002 (see UK Film Council website) and the second highest since 1971. Nothing like a recession and some blockbusters to make us beat a path to popcorn alley! As the Herald’s Phil Miller notes, no Scottish film made it into the top 20 or indeed the top 20 UK films and none of the latter received any funding from Scottish Screen, a topic we will return to in future posts (and in particular the split between studio backed and indie films).
But trying to stay positive, what hasnt been picked up by commentators is the sterling performance of UK independent film. Behind the headline figures for gross box office, the overall UK share of the market at 16.5% in 2009 is rather disappointing given that the mean share over the past decade has been 23%. But the independents share (that is films produced without major US studio backing) has doubled since 2000 to an impressive 8.5%. (compared to a mean for the decade of 5.4%). That’s very good news for British film as it means less revenue being exported to LA and gives filmmakers more evidence of the upside when trying to persuade investors to back their projects.
The question we will return to (once we have the data, made more difficult by the demise of Screen Finance which published its last issue in December) is how Scots (and Scottish Screen) fared in the independent stakes – a more appropriate comparison.