Movies such as Harry Potter, filmed in places including Oxford, Gloucester and Durham, and The World Is Not Enough, the Bond film featuring the Millennium Dome, are bringing rich rewards for shops, hoteliers and restaurateurs, as well as earning lucrative location fees. According to the newly-created Film Council, Britain earned almost£540m last year with films such as Proof of Life, Chocolat, Possession and Pearl Harbour.
Now the Film Council wants to make even more out of the film industry and is developing a£6m regional strategy to help the number of films and TV series still further. The body intends to work closely with local tourist boards and the government to ensure that the regions capitalise on what is known in the business as the 'Crocodile Dundee effect', so named because of the boost to the Australian tourist industry created by the hit 1980s movie. The money will be used to allow regional film commissions to develop their own movie industry in their area through local training initiatives, regional film theatres, film festivals and educational activities.
The south west of England received around£11m in direct spending by film companies last year. North wales, where Hilary and Jackie was filmed, has received£5m in direct spending since 1998. The East Midlands Screen Commisssion said approximately£60m was spent in the region last year:£1.5m in revenue came from the film Twenty Four Seven and£3m from Room for Romeo Brass, shot almost exlusively on location in Nottinghamshire. The Northern Screen Commission said that almost£5m was spent on film production in 2000.
The biggest economic bonanza this year has come from the filming of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Durham cathedral, Gloucester Cathedral, Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire, Christ Church College and the Bodleian Library, Oxford, have all been used as locations. But the location fees will prove only a fraction of the true economic worth of attracting Harry Potter to town. Gloucester and Lacock are bracing themselves for a tourist invasion come the film's general release later this year.