n 1969, Britain lost a 25-year business war it had been fighting with America for control of the UK film market. In 1969, the British government capitulated to Washington in a secret deal, and removed the protections that, until then, had sustained British Cinema. When these protections were removed (primarily certain tax breaks and the Eady Levy) the British film studios were doomed. Associated British Pictures and the Rank Organisation quit film operations in 1970, and British Lion scaled back, hanging on by its fingernails, until giving up the ghost in 1976.Jonathan Gems on Clausewitz and the London Film Festival, at Pure Movies.
Since 1970, Britain – a nation of over 60 million – has released an average of 6 British films per year. Denmark, a nation of only 5.5 million, has averaged 29 films per year over the same period. How is it possible that tiny Denmark can generate almost five times our movie output?
Simple: in Denmark, 12% of the market is protected for Danish films by the government.
The French government protects the French film industry in the same way. In France, 12% of the market is reserved exclusively for French films. Since 1970, this policy, combined with certain production subsidies, has enabled France to have a thriving indigenous industry turning out an average of 102 movies per year.
France’s population, at 63.4 million, is comparable to Britain’s, so it’s reasonable to assume that, if our government protected 12% of the UK film market for UK films (easily done with the stroke of the pen) we, too, could be putting out a hundred films a year.