U.K. film stats go digital

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Before the news of its pending abolishment hit on July 26, the U.K. Film Council provided ongoing proof of the essential and successful nature of its support work.

Published as a searchable website for first time, the Council’s 2010 Statistical Yearbook (http://bit.ly/euro0910b) details the record levels totaling £944 million (US$1.47 billion) that the U.K. box office reached in 2009. Attendance too was the second highest since 1971. In 2009, 60% of the U.K. population said they went to the cinema at least once a year, while 18% went once a month or more. The total size of the Kingdom’s film audience was estimated to be 4.5 billion, 75% of which was on television, followed by 20% on DVD and video. The VOD audience was estimated to have reached 41 million.

At £753 million (US$1.173 mil.), the inward investment was up 111% over 2008 as U.K. films took 17% market share at home, with independent films grabbing a record 8.2% share. Internationally, three films (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Slumdog Millionaire and Sherlock Holmes) contributed US$1.5 million to an overall US$2 billion or 7% market share and 2.3% for independents. The Council also noted, “U.K. film exports in 2008 were a massive 92% higher than in 2001 and the most recent figures (from 2008) show that the U.K.’s trade surplus was £494 million [US$770 mil.].”

During the July 21 announcement by the Council, Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Creative Industries and Communications, was enthusiastic. “These figures are clear evidence of the U.K.’s thriving film industry and its valuable contribution to our economy and cultural life.” Within a week, he expressed that the Film Council should be closed by April 2012. On BBC-4 Radio, Vaizey’s “message to the industry” was, “While I understand you have concerns, the government is committed to supporting film and my commitment is to sit down and work with you [as] people in the film industry are spreading scare stories that the demise of the UKFC is the demise of the U.K. film industry.”

This author, however, joins Tim Bevan, CBE, chairman of the U.K. Film Council, in his assessment that the closing of “the most successful film-support organization the U.K. has ever had” is indeed “a big mistake, driven by short-term thinking and political expediency. British film, which is one of the U.K.’s more successful growth industries, deserves better.”

Cinematograph Focuses on Ireland

The latest edition of The Cinematograph, edited by Marc Zimmerman and published by Cinema Heritage Group, features 18 pages with photos and news “Recording & Preserving Cinemagoing History.” The special focus on Ireland and Dublin, where the organization was founded in 2006, not only includes heritage listings but also future plans for a multiplex on top of the parking garage of Saint Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre and a megaplex replacement for the UCI Tallaght 12. Opened in 1990, it was Ireland’s first multiplex. Zimmerman also visits the 18-seat XD Theater in the lobby of the historic Charlton. The 4D venue is operated by Dr. Quirkey’s Emporium, the arcade next door.

To check out more and to become a member, go to www.CinemaHeritageGroup.org.

Danish Film Institute Salutes Dreyer

Although he made no more than 14 features and eight shorts, everyone should agree with the Danish Film Institute that “Carl Theodor Dreyer is Danish cinema’s most celebrated director.” To this day, the man behind La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928), Vampyr (1932) and Gertrud (1964) remains “an inspiration to artists, filmmakers and audiences.” A new website was recently launched at www.carlthdreyer.dk presenting what the Institute rightly calls a “vast and unique collection” with clips, photos, original scripts, material for unrealized film projects, personal letters, posters and more.

Euro Film Sales Support Working
Between 2004 and 2009, European Film Promotion’s Film Sales Support (FSS) program assisted 82 different sales agents and “a great number of producers” with marketing campaigns for 546 films from all over Europe. The Hamburg, Germany-based organization (www.efp-online.com) also reported that this MEDIA Programme-funded initiative resulted in 45% of the FFS-backed titles being sold outside of Europe.

Going Dutch on Digital
With an agreement that sees the estimated €38.8 million conversion cost (US$50.4 million) split among distributors (63%), exhibitors (21%) and the Dutch government (16%), all 239 theatres and 755 screens in The Netherlands are going digital. Currently, some 149 screens are already projecting bits and bytes. The entire conversion project, which is anticipated to be completed by mid-2012, will be overseen by a special entity called CinemaDigitaal.nl, the exhibitor association NBV confirmed in its press release (http://bit.ly/euro0910c).

The initiative is also supported by the NVF-Nederlandse Vereniging van Filmdistributeurs (www.filmdistributeurs.nl/3), EYE Film Instituut Nederland (http://www.eyefilm.nl/en), de Nederlandse Vereniging van Speelfilmproducenten (NVS) and Nederlands Fonds voor de Film.

“This collective approach is necessary to guarantee a diverse film offer and a close-knit, regionally balanced screening circuit, and to save both time and money,” EYE stated.

‘Rpatz’ Ripped from Russian Kino
In the Twilight of a multiplex lobby in Krasnoyarsk, one female fan decided to take Edward Cullen (aka “Rpatz”) in her own hands. Yes, “Rpatz” stands for Robert Pattinson and, thanks to video surveillance and YouTube, we can all have a good chuckle. We thank the Twilight Reality blog for filling us in on the bloody deed.

E-mail news and comments for Andreas Fuchs to kevin.lally@nielsen.com.