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Brexit: Movie, TV leaders warn of impact on British filmmaking

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Laurie Sparham; Ishika Mohan; Laurie Sparham

After news broke Friday morning that voters in Great Britain had decided the country should exit the European Union, movie and TV industry leaders cautioned that “Brexit” could have disastrous consequences on Britain’s film and media industry.

As part of the EU, the U.K. benefitted from film subsidies like the MEDIA program, which provided millions of dollars to fund film and television projects in the country. According to Daily Telegraph film critic Robbie Collin, films like The Queen, Slumdog Millionaire, and The King’s Speech all received MEDIA funding.

 

EU membership also allowed British films and TV shows to be more easily distributed across Europe, and now, those movies and shows could possibly be subject to higher fees and taxes when distributed abroad.

Michael Ryan, the chairman of the Independent Film and Television Alliance, said in a statement to Variety that the Brexit decision was “a major blow to the U.K. film and TV industry.”

“The decision has just blown up our foundation,” Ryan said. “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 U.K. creative sector has been a strong and vibrant contributor to the economy — this is likely to be devastating.”

Harvey Weinstein also told Deadline that he was “shocked” by the Brexit vote, attributing the vote to fears about immigration. He added, “I think there will be discrimination now against some of the product and what it means to be European product. … It could be very costly in the movie and TV industry in terms of content branding.”

Still, while the Brexit vote could have serious negative effects on British productions, the falling value of the pound could also make it much cheaper for Hollywood to shoot in Britain. “Since breakfast, your $200 million production in the U.K. suddenly got $20 million cheaper,” British producer Jonathan Weissler told The Hollywood Reporter. But even though Hollywood may save money by shooting in the U.K., the weakened pound could also affect box office profits in Britain.

Last month, almost 300 actors and filmmakers penned a letter opposing Brexit. Stars like Benedict Cumberbatch, Helena Bonham Carter, Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Bill Nighy, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and John Hurt all argued that the British media industry benefited from “vital EU funding” and the ability to freely travel and work in different European countries.

Earlier this week, British filmmakers like James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, Kingsman: The Secret Service director Matthew Vaughn, and The King’s Speech producer Iain Canning all signed a letter urging the country to remain in the EU, cautioning that if the U.K. decided to exit, filmmakers may need to obtain work permits to work in other European countries.

Since the Brexit decision, scores of celebrities have taken to social media to react to the EU referendum. Head here to see reactions from stars like James Corden, Lindsay Lohan, Hugh Laurie, Neil Gaiman, and more. 

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