What do “Game of Thrones,” “Outlander,” and every future production to take place in the “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars” universes have in common? They’re all filmed, at least in part, in the U.K. And now that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has voted to leave the European Union, they’ve all been thrown into a bit of turmoil.
The U.K. currently offers as much as a 25 percent tax rebate on qualifying productions shooting there, and it remains to be seen whether that credit will stay intact after the tumult of Britain’s exit from the EU. But movies and television shows that shoot in the U.K. are also eligible for funding from the EU’s Creative Europe initiative, which can provide an even greater incentive than the tax rebate.
While the status of those incentives may be up in the air now, there’s no question that much is at stake. The film and TV industries brought about 2.2 billion British pounds ($3 billion) into the U.K. economy in 2015.
Movies produced by foreign studios brought 1.18 billion pounds into Britain last year. And foreign-owned TV series shot in the U.K. pulled in 379 million pounds in 2015, a sharp rise from 302.4 million pounds in 2014, although the number of such productions fell to 25 from 30 over the same two years: The latest total represented almost one-half the money spent on TV production in the country last year.
The most recent season of “Game of Thrones” alone had a budget of $100 million, about 72.3 million pounds at the current (diminished) exchange rate. In a statement, however, HBO said it doesn’t anticipate the Brexit will have any material effect on the network producing the show. “Game of Thrones” hasn’t been receiving funding from the European Regional Development Fund for the past few seasons, which might indicate that the Northern Ireland production headquarters won’t need to be moved.
The difficulties for future British productions aren’t just financial, though. One of the appeals of headquartering production in the U.K. is the fluidity of an EU workforce, enabling easy multicultural casting and simultaneous filming in several different countries.
The possibility of a Brexit had many British creative organizations worried, fears that may be realized, according to Michael Ryan, chairman of the Independent Film and Television Alliance and partner of GFM Films.
“This decision has just blown up our foundation,” Ryan told the Knowledge online site. “As of today, we no longer know how our relationships with co-producers, financiers and distributors will work, whether new taxes will be dropped on our activities in the rest of Europe or how production financing is going to be raised without any input from European funding agencies.”
The Creative Industries Federation, another organization that opposed the Brexit, is focusing on picking up the pieces. “It will be vital for all sides to work together to ensure that the interests of our sector on issues including access to funding and talent are safeguarded as the U.K. forges its new relationship with Europe,” CEO John Kampfner wrote in a post on the federation site. “The importance of British culture in representing our country to the world will be greater than ever.”