The ONS are calling it a ‘notable slowdown’, analysts are claiming it’s ‘grim’ and with the economy growing by 0.3% in April and June, the worst six months of UK growth since 2012 has been completed, however, there has been one hero amongst the doom-and-gloom. According to Eurostat the UK has slipped to the bottom of the European Growth League due –but not limited – to a regression in the construction markets (which has fallen 0.9% year to date) and the political uncertainty following Theresa May’s disastrous snap-election decision. However, a strong performance from the UK film industry dragged the economy into positive growth, albeit very slender growth.
Coming only behind retails sales, Film and TV have risen to the position of the UK’s second largest contributor to economic growth having grown by 8.2%. This underlines the strong performance in recent years in the UK’s position and strength in the global film market which has soared with 72.4% growth average since 2014. This increase seems huge alone but is almost unbelievable when compared to the EU average for the same time period – an 8.5% increase. Not bad for an economy that, for a long time, could only boast James Bond within its repertoire of blockbusters but can now claim huge stakes in the production of the worldwide blue-chip film such as Wonder Woman, Star Wars VIII and the upcoming Avengers 3.
It would be too easy to claim that this increase has simply been to decent films being released. Added to the complete subjectivity of that statement, there has been no notable increase in the average rotten tomatoes scores since its inception in 2000 as well as worrying signs from Hollywood, leading to many, including The Hollywood Reporter’s Pamela McClintock, concluding this year is “Hollywood’s franchise crisis” amid some poor box-office performances. Therefore proof that the UK is nearing seclusion in its impressive film industry performance. Whilst it is true that British talents when it comes to pools of actors and directors and the weak Sterling could (and will) have had a contribution to the growth, the most sizable factor is most certainly the various tax relief programmes introduced since 2008. Producers claiming costs within UK borders are able to claim a quarter of 80% of their production costs, therefore, are able to not only tap into the wealth of British technical and performing expertise but are also able to do so relatively cheaply – HMRC states it has paid out £2.3bn in the past ten years with respect to film and TV production alone.
However, as with seemingly every economic movement in Britain, as the likes of Pinewood, Warner Bros and IMG (to name a few) congregate around London, this could be a capital orientated success. However, with many foreign film and TV makers choosing rural locations – such as used in the hugely popular Game of Thrones – there could be cause to predict some economic rebalancing despite Chris Grayling’s abandonment of the rest of England in favour of yet more London-focused investment. Furthermore, with few MEDCs (More Economically Developed Countries) offering the same level of support for production companies, it is largely rational to predict further sustained growth.