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John McVay and Andy Leyshon demand better support for UK film at hearing

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Source: UK Parliament Culture Media and Sport Committee

Phil Clapp, Andy Leyshon, John McVay at CMS Committee hearing

A perceived lack of quality UK independent cinema to feed the content pipeline was a key concern for UK Cinema Association (UKCA) head Phil Clapp, Andy Leyshon, chief executive of the Film Distributors’ Association (FDA) and Pact’s chief exec John McVay, as they gave evidence at the UK Parliament’s cross-party Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee on Tuesday (January 23).

Clapp acknowledged while ‘Barbenheimer”s 2023 boost to the cinema sector was welcomed, “It’s the performance of everything else” that was his concern.

He said of the members of the UKCA, that represents a broad church of independent exhibitors as well as larger chains: “All of them will say to you what we want is more, better and better supported British independent films and we will put them in front of audiences. We will do everything we can to promote them, but there are limits. To be honest, the issue is not the quantity of the supply, but the quality. In 2023, only 11 films will have reached this threshold. McVay said, “We need to provide better films.”

As exhibitors are under financial pressure, it is not possible for cinemas wait for slow-burning, word-of mouth titles to take off. “At this time, the most important thing is to make money,” said Clapp. “There are of course cost of living issues in that.”

is a common response when we conduct surveys: “There’s nothing on at my local theatre I wanted to see.” “Anything that takes more money out of the pockets of cinema operators when they are already struggling would be bad.” This is not something we think you’ll want to pay for, so here, have it.” This isn’t something we think you’ll want to pay for it, so here, have it.”

He reflected: “Allowing the ‘small m market’ to hold sway, allowing cinema operators of all shapes and sizes to take a view on the quality of the film and attractiveness to its audience, is the way to go rather than dictates around screens or levies.”

While in 2023 cinema attendance was up 25% in Germany, 31% in Spain and 60% in Italy, it only increased 8% in the UK, year on year. “This is almost entirely because of their domestic films.” Clapp suggested that the European outlook was the engine of their recovery. Clapp wants to see more government support for cinemas that are facing rising costs. “We would strongly push on a short-term basis for a relief on VAT for cinema tickets,” he said, adding that out of European cinema trade body UNIC’s membership of 39 countries, 26 of these offer lower rates of VAT on tickets.

“Last year the average cinema ticket price was PS8, it only went up 3% since 2022,” said Clapp. “I know that a lot of cinema operators felt it was necessary to absorb the cost due to energy and staffing. They didn’t feel it was appropriate to pass this on to customers. I don’t think that will last.”[But the reason for attendance downturn]Tax Relief Proposals

In a written submission, Pact proposed a credit increase of 30-40% on films with production budgets between PS1m and PS15m. McVay said that this increased support would “de-risk investment” as well as help create a greater variety of content in the pipeline. “It will change the zeitgeist and people’s approach. Will it lead more diversity? I hope so. Will it bring in new talent? Absolutely. I don’t think governments or parliaments can dictate what happens, but they can create environments. “That’s how you change the world.”

When questioned later about the need for more diversity in the industry at all levels, the trio acknowledged that there was much work to be done. Especially at the highest level. They are also all white men of middle age. “I think the phrase is pale, male and stale,” said McVay.

Leyshon centred his evidence on an argument for a print and advertising (P&A) specific relief for lower budget films. “It should be in sync with John’s request for a higher tax relief,” he said. “Distribution has always been a risky business. Distributors are entrepreneurs. Every new release is like a new business – they usually break even and if they make money, that’s great. They would be encouraged to spend more, to go wider, to risk more, to get better awareness, and so on. They would be encouraged to spend more, to go wider to risk more, to get better awareness, to get those films seen much wider.”

Just over 5% releases play at over 600 venues in the UK, with most at under 50 screens, out of a possible 850 cinemas in the UK.

Leyshon suggested the P&A relief would cost the tax payer PS9.3m, but the return on investment would be PS2.54 for every pound spent.

US dependency

McVay believes studios and streamers want the UK to bolster is native industry, as they “recognise it is the R&D

lab for talent”.

He does not agree the UK industry has become too dependent on US inward investment, as suggested by the drying up of production activity in the UK after the Hollywood strikes took hold last summer. McVay believes studios and streamers want the UK to bolster its native industry, as they “recognise it is the R&D

lab for talent”. It’s led to studio development across the country.”

However, he also acknowledged: “If America sneezes, we catch a cold when it comes to things like strike.” It’s led to studio development across the country.”

However, he also acknowledged: “If America sneezes, we catch a cold when it comes to things like strike.”

Exploration of calls for a streamer levy on UK production was notably absent from today’s proceedings.

McVay said he was confident that similar strikes would not break out in the UK. “We have a different process in the UK.” Pact negotiates all the collective agreements, we have constant dialogues, we have a much more ongoing discussion,” he said.[research and development]The trio gave evidence after UK director Gurinder Chadha opened proceedings, who revealed the struggles she has faced setting up independent films with diverse cast, even after the success of her titles such as

Bend It Like Beckham


Angus Thongs And Perfect Snogging


Blinded By The Light.Further sessions are yet to be scheduled, however the second instalment is likely to take place in early March. The next session is yet to be scheduled, but the second instalment will likely take place in early March.

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