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U.K. Studios Get Tax Relief, Indie Film Tax Credit Set, New ‘Jurassic World’ Movie to Shoot This Year

The U.K. government of Conservative Party leader Rishi Sunak unveiled a 40 percent corporate tax relief for film and TV studio facilities until 2034 on Wednesday, introduced a new independent film incentive of 40 percent and announced an increase to an existing incentive for visual effects. The moves earned praise from entertainment industry leaders who also said that the new Jurassic World movie would start shooting in the country later this year.

Sunak’s chancellor, or finance minister, Jeremy Hunt made the announcements during his spring budget speech.

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“We have become Europe’s largest film and TV production center, with Idris Elba, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom all filming their latest productions here,” said Hunt, adding that if production space growth continues at its current pace, the country will next year rank “second only to Hollywood” in that regard. “Studio space in the U.K. has doubled in the last three years and at the current rate of expansion, next year we will be second only to Hollywood globally,” he explained.

The chancellor also unveiled an increase in the rate of tax credit by 5 percentage points and removal of the 80 percent cap for visual effects costs in the audio visual expenditure credit. After listening “carefully to representations from companies like Pinewood, Warner Bros. and Sky Studios, we will provide eligible film studios in England with a 40 percent relief on their gross business rates until 2034,” he added.

And Hunt unveiled “a new tax credit for U.K. independent films with a budget of less than £15 million,” or $19 million.

Creative U.K., an interest group representing the creative industries in the U.K., had urged the government to review the so-called “studio tax,” recently saying: “The U.K. has recently seen a slowdown in film and TV production. One of the contributing factors to this is the ‘studio tax’ … We’re calling on the Treasury to urgently review this, in the wake of concerning studio closures.”

Dana Strong, the CEO of Comcast-owned Sky Group, lauded the government’s action. “We’re delighted that the chancellor called ‘cut’ today on TV and film studio business rates, providing vital tax relief to enable the U.K.’s world-class film and TV production sector to continue to thrive,” she said. “Today’s announcement brings confidence to the sector, unlocking job opportunities whilst providing a stable foundation for the investments of tomorrow in the U.K.”

She also unveiled that the latest movie in the Jurassic hit franchise, Jurassic 4, will film at the company’s Sky Studios Elstree facility, north of London, which has also hosted shoots for the likes of Wicked and Paddington 3. The previous movie in the Jurassic franchise brought more than 2,000 jobs and spending of £180 million ($230 million) to the U.K., according to Sky.

The tax relief also gives Sky “confidence” to proceed with its investments and “the process of submitting our Sky Studios Elstree North expansion plans,” the firm said. Sky Studios Elstree North is set to create 2,000 jobs and bring an additional £2 billion ($2.55 billion) of production spend into the U.K. over its first five years alone.

Pact, a trade association representing U.K. independent TV, film, digital, children’s and animation media companies, and the British Film Institute (BFI) also welcomed the budget news. “Both Pact and the BFI believe that the enhanced film tax credit will help strengthen the indigenous film sector’s ability to attract finance and to continue developing key talent which will benefit the wider audiovisual sector,” they said in a statement. “Additionally, whilst the audiovisual tax reliefs have played a vital role in making the U.K. one of the most successful screen sectors in the world, strong global competition from many countries boosting their own tax incentives has meant that U.K. independent filmmakers have chosen to film on location abroad rather than in the U.K. Pact and the BFI believe that the uplift in the film tax credit will lead to more producers choosing to film in the U.K., sustaining jobs and creating new opportunities.”

Jay Hunt, the chair of the BFI, also said: “The government’s new tax credit is a game changer for U.K. filmmakers, creating jobs and ensuring great British stories continue to be told.”

Added BFI CEO Ben Roberts: “This is a dramatic moment for U.K. film, and the most significant policy intervention since the 1990s. The positive impact will be felt across our industry and through all the new films that audiences will get to enjoy. The films we make are vital to our culture expression and creativity – they reflect a diverse and global Britain and build careers.”

Hunt on Wednesday also unveiled measures that he said would ensure that the U.K. becomes “the next Silicon Valley.”

Hunt was seen across British media outlets on his way to the spring budget speech carrying the famous red briefcase, which traditionally contains the chancellor’s budget notes.

The BFI also compiled positive commentary from big-name creatives following the budget update.
“Independent and lower-budget filmmaking is where we had our start and where new voices and innovations vital to the entire industry are born,” Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas, writer/director and producer of Oppenheimer, said. “This enhanced tax relief builds on the incredible work already being done by British filmmakers and will create new opportunities for British crews, filmmakers and cast members for years to come.“

Idris Elba shared: “Independent films are a training ground for talent and an opportunity to show the world who we are. We have some of the best-loved filmmakers out there but these films are becoming almost impossible to make and we risk losing them completely – so this support is great news, and will have a massive impact on our British film culture.”

Barbara Broccoli producer of the James Bond films, said: “The support for independent filmmaking announced by the Prime Minister and Chancellor today is game-changing. It will ensure that our screen industry will continue to thrive by giving opportunities to a diversity of new talent both on and off the screen for future generations of filmmakers.”

Added director Ridley Scott: “Expanding tax relief to support U.K. independent film has never been more needed if this vital part of the industry is to survive and thrive. Over the course of my career I’ve seen how creativity is born and lives within independent filmmaking, and has been intrinsic to the industry’s growth and success; as well as being the source of important stories that matter to society. It also happens to be something we do spectacularly well – expanding tax relief will help ensure we continue the pipeline of great British stories and talent, both in front of and behind the camera.”

Steve McQueen, the Oscar-winning writer/director behind the likes of 12 Years A Slave, also lauded the additional industry support, saying: “I strongly back the proposal for enhanced tax relief for low-budget independent films. Independent films are extremely important.”

And Riz Ahmed threw his star power behind the government plans. “Independent film is so important for freedom of expression here in the U.K. It’s a space where creators have liberty to pursue their artistic vision, to spotlight stories that might otherwise be sidelined, and to showcase new talent from underrepresented groups,” he said. “It affords us the opportunity to explore different narratives of Britishness. At a time when it’s become increasingly difficult to get independent films financed, this additional support will be vital to ensure the dynamism and influence of British artists on the global stage.”

Jonathan Glazer, writer/director of The Zone of Interest, also chimed in, saying: “There’s a risk we are not nurturing the creative filmmakers of tomorrow as it’s increasingly hard to finance films at this budget level in the U.K. I welcome the additional support which would ensure and enable creativity and risk- taking.”

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