Cameron Calls for ‘Commercial Cinema’

Prime Minister David Cameron spoke out about the current state of the British film industry calling for more commercial films. The remark was made during his visit to Pinewood Studios, the heart of British cinema for over 70 years, which was once the home of Harry Potter and is now where the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, is currently shooting. The Prime Minister made clear the need for more blockbuster films, insisting that there be more focus on commercially successful films that would rival those of  Hollywood.  

A review led by Lord Chris Smith and compiled by industry experts including Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, states it would be in the industry’s best interests to produce more mainstream, yet culturally rewarding films. The Prime Minister has backed this saying that more lottery funding should be assigned to films that would appeal to a global market.

The success of The King’s Speech last year, which became the highest-grossing British film in history, has been cause for reflection on an industry that once thrived. Since the 1950s the British film industry has declined, with fewer films being made on home soil every year. The economic climate has also caused a decrease in film production as funding has gotten harder for independent filmmakers.

David Cameron said: “We should aim even higher, building on the incredible success of recent years. Our role, and that of the BFI, should be to support the sector in becoming even more dynamic and entrepreneurial, helping UK producers to make commercially successful pictures that rival the quality and impact of the best international production. Just as the British Film Commission has played a crucial role in attracting the biggest and best international studios to produce their films here, so we must incentivise UK producers to chase new markets both here and overseas.

Despite the fact that the UK film industry is worth £4.2 billion Arts Minister Ed Vaizey has said that it is still not as profitable as it should be. This is partly down to the difficultly in funding but is also due to the attitudes of those who do the investing. In previous years when funding was more readily available, a film gained support purely on its entertainment value. However, changing attitudes in the industry means that a film is also required to have a value beyond that of the screen. Today films are often turned down due to a lack of artistry, as a film must appear to offer something more than just a couple of hours of escapism.

Recently us Brits have stepped up to the mark, producing films both culturally important and entertaining, including Wild Target, Made in Dagenham, Burke and Hare and the hugely successful The Inbetweeners Movie. As a nation we are more than capable of making a good film with all the necessary elements and factors but the heart of the problem lies with cinema audiences.

It is the cinema goers that determine the success of film, and when they are listed among the big American blockbusters, it’s no surprise that the humble British film falls alongside. But as the The Inbetweeners Movie has proved, it’s not always about big budgets, big effects and even bigger names. Instead it is the advertising and the misconceptions. For too long the British film has been labelled as ‘quirky’ and ‘low-budget’ and even ‘indie’, but times are changing and if Mr Cameron’s words are true it looks as though the British film industry is approaching another golden age.


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