So How Do British Filmmakers Find Box Office Gold?

Following on from David Cameron’s comments yesterday, regarding British filmmakers to focus on the Box Office as their main target, I thought this is what naturally happens anyway when a film gets made. Why would financial investors ever throw money into a film if they didn’t think it would make healthy returns at the box office? Without the funding, films would never see the light of day, and investors would not take the risk, especially considering film is one of the most riskiest investments to be made anyway.


David Cameron visiting Pinewood Studios yesterday


I agree with the concept that whatever money is made available from the government to hand out to filmmakers, it should be commercially viable, and ploughed into more mainstream type movies that are expected to make a decent profit. This is therefore something the country as a whole benefits from, as opposed to money being squandered on low budget arthouse films which end up being viewed in a student’s basement. Yes, that makes business sense.

But how does a film producer know what sounds like a hot commercial prospect? Any kind of movie is a gamble. As the great screenwriter William Goldman once said: nobody knows anything. The UK Film Council didn’t always get it right in the early years of its existence, trying to make commercial hits which resulted in some embarrassing, instantly forgettable cockney gangsters flicks.

So are we destined to go through this again? The UK Film Council was far from perfect, and it certainly had its critics, but its successes were starting to shine through, mainly because of the self-scrutiny and research, always trying to get the balance between supporting crowd-pleasers and critics alike. Two of the most successful British films made in recent years wouldn’t sound like Box Office Gold on paper – Slumdog Millionaire and The King’s Speech, yet they went way beyond expectations.


Sound like Box Office Gold on paper?


Unfortunately there is no correct, winning formula for filmmakers, no matter what Cameron’s best wishes and intentions are for the UK film industry. Some films on paper sound like they are dead cert winners, but end up proving disastrous (Green Lantern, Cuthroat Island, The Adventures of Pluto Nash) whereas other films such as Slumdog Millionaire and The King’s Speech sound like dull affairs that will most likely tank miserably at the box offie, yet prove to have the special X factor that Mr. Cameron is looking for – Box Office Gold.


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Cameron urges UK film makers to focus on box office



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  1. Tariq Wahr says:

    It is welcoming that the head of state has taken time and interest in our roller coaster industry. We have had a few good years of UK lead films, making noise and bringing in profits.
    Lets talk more about the Submarine, Hunger, Attack The Block, Kidulthood and a raft of low to medium sized budget films. They have equally generated accolades and note worthy comment in the film industry. They have also made money and created new markets and reach to audiences that are near enough untouchable and not based in middle England. They are the future of film making growth in the UK.
    These films have been lead by innovative, educated and business focussed teams who have grafted hard. Yes they were once students of film, but they have grown to be women and men that should equally be supported – more so now than never.
    If investment is to be allotted it needs to be strategic and fuelled with legacy in mind site. Invest in new faces and resourcing distribution, writing, producing directing and production talent. I am not dismissing the accomplishments of our good and great. We should be proud and continue to support these giants, but not exclusively. Lets not create a ‘snout in the trough’ era ever again.
    Lets get infrastructure properly in place with bodies and representing organisations protecting the interests of the industry. We have not yet emerged from the caves settling equality, fair pay and rights as well as intellectual property disputes. Lets not carried away with crystal ball gazes and wild speculation.
    The Film industry needs a new coat of paint preferably orange with yellow spots guaranteed no allegiance to some old school.