21 July 2023

MPs to look at challenges faced by British film industry

21 July 2023

MPs will be looking at “financial problems” in British cinema chains following the restructure of Cineworld Group and some Empire Cinemas closing down.

The Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee has announced a new inquiry that will scrutinise challenges faced by the British film and high-end television industry.

This review includes a look at how the sector can adapt to the rise of artificial intelligence, and issues around skills and retention in the industry will also be examined.

Dame Caroline Dinenage, chair of the CMS Committee, highlighted the new Barbie film starring Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie as the British film industry’s “latest success” story, as the doll’s home Barbieland was filmed at Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden, Hertfordshire.

Dame Caroline said: “We will be looking at how to maintain the attractiveness of the UK as a global destination for production while ensuring independent films, similar to recent hits Rye Lane and Aftersun, can be made and seen.”

Family drama Aftersun saw Paul Mescal nominated for both an Oscar and a Bafta this year, while romantic comedy Rye Lane, released in 2023, has received critical acclaim.

Dame Caroline also said: “The financial problems encountered by big name cinema chains have highlighted the importance of protecting and promoting the UK’s screen heritage.”

Cineworld’s UK operations are being placed in administration this month as part of its restructuring, though its cinemas remain open as usual.

The Empire Cinemas chain collapsed into administration earlier this month after seeing dwindling numbers of film-goers, with six sites being closed with immediate effect.

Dame Caroline also highlighted the need for the industry to get ahead of “adapting skills and responding to the challenges of artificial intelligence” as Hollywood actors and writers remain on strike over these issues.

She added: “The challenge now is to make sure the industry and Government are thinking of the future to maintain and enhance an industry that is hugely important both to the economy and to the culture of the UK and its power on the world stage.”

The MPs also highlighted the millions of pounds brought in by big scripted television projects such as Netflix period drama Bridgerton, BBC crime series Happy Valley and fantasy Amazon series The Lord Of The Rings: Rings Of Power, which were filmed in the UK.

The review also considers how the independent film production sector can be helped and how to maintain and build up the UK as a global destination for filming.

A previous report by the committee about the British film industry, 20 years ago, made recommendations around training and development of those in the sector along with how to change the tax regime.

Written submissions need to be made to the committee by September 19.

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