The UK film production industry is soaring thanks to high-profile titles like Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Paddington 2, but are licensees keeping up? Jack Ridsdale investigates...
When Disney announced the new generation of Star Wars movies, most were concerned with the fates of their favourite Jedi knights and what new planets and creatures we would be treated to. However, for the UK film industry all eyes were on the film series’ production arrangements, sparking a new hope that the beloved sci-fi franchise would return to its roots in blighty.
It was the then-Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne that received the honour of announcing the new franchise would set up filming at London’s Pinewood Studios, providing a boon to the film production sector. Since production began on The Force Awakens in 2014, the blockbuster franchise has generated over $1 billion for the UK economy, a figure which is set to be further increased by a new Hollywood production headed to the UK in the form of Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One.
With this continued partnership with the top Hollywood studios such as Disney, these worldwide film franchises are becoming further engrained in the country’s national identity, especially with the inclusion of British talent such as Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. With this in mind, UK licensees are in a better position than ever to capitalise on the pop culture behemoths of today, given the inherent connection to their home turf.
With more of Hollywood’s top tentpoles moving to UK shores, could the country become the new hub of blockbuster entertainment? It’s not out of the realms of possibility with the nation also playing host to such headline properties as Game of Thrones, Fantastic Beats and of course, homegrown hits like Paddington 2.
“These most recent inward investment figures demonstrate just what a significant contribution our film and TV industries continue to make to the UK economy,” Adrian Wootton, chief executive of the British Film Commission and Film London told Forbes recently. “This is thanks to our unique combination of skills, talent, services and infrastructure.”
From a licensing perspective, the world of blockbuster film is more diverse than ever with family hits like Fantastic Beats bringing magic, Star Wars bringing mystical space adventure, Marvel bringing the heroes and Ready Player One casting a sci-fi eye towards the technological advancements of the future. The potential for innovative consumer products bearing the names of these brands boggles the mind, whether in toys, gadgets, apparel or almost anything else.