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Brexit Fallout: ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Star Wars,’ and Oscar Favorites Could Face Trouble

The ripple effect is significant as dozens of last year's Cannes and Oscar favorites received funding from the EU, while Hollywood sends over 10% of their movies to the UK to shoot.


[Update: “Game of Thrones” producers have told Entertainment Weekly that the Brexit vote will not affect production on the HBO series.]

Brexit has already brought crashing markets and Prime Minister David Cameron’s resignation. It’s reasonable to believe that the financing and production of the biggest TV and film productions could soon follow suit. Here’s a breakdown of the major categories that could feel the impact.

Large Hollywood Productions

The Star Wars franchise is one of many blockbusters that shoots at Pinewood, a top-notch UK soundstage. “Game of Thrones” makes great use of the green field of Northern Ireland.  “Outlander” creates it’s magical universe in Scottish castles and countrysides.  All told, Hollywood sends 10%-12% of its productions — and billions of dollars — to the UK.

Hollywood is attracted to shoot in the U.K. because of tax incentives which save 25% on up to 80% of total production costs.  These rebates are now in jeopardy due to Brexit. It is possible that the British government could decide to continue these incentives on their own. However, there’s good reason to believe that in negotiating to re-open trade with the rest of Europe, the EU would reject incentives that favor local U.K. businesses.

While this loss of business would be devastating to English technicians, actors, or vendors that have thrived on the billions being spent on production (the BFI estimated $2.36 billion in 2014), there are some — like “Kick-Ass” and “Kingsmen” director Matthew Vaughn – who have argued it is time for the government to incentivize British film and TV production, not Hollywood’s. (Vaughn was officially against Brexit.)

READ MORE: Hollywood’s UK Community Debates Brexit: Should They Stay Or Should They Go?

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens"

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

British Movies

Joining the EU was a boon to the export of British movies. Before that happened, British films faced taxes and quotas limiting their ability to be shown in the rest of Europe. According to a recent study by the Creative Industries Federation of all the UK’s creative industries, 57% of the sector’s export revenue comes from the rest of Europe.

It was for this reason that 282 of the most significant players in Britain’s entertainment industry — including Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, director Steve McQueen and the Working Title boss Tim Bevan — signed a letter asking people to vote against Brexit.

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I, Daniel Blake

“I, Daniel Blake”

Sundance Selects

 Funding of Oscar & Festival Films

It is hard to exaggerate just how intertwined the EU is in financing independent film. Among the aforementioned letter’s statements: “From the smallest gallery to the biggest blockbuster, many of us have worked on the projects that would never have happened without vital EU funding.”



At the heart of this assertion is the impact of Creative Europe, a $1.46 billion-dollar organization that funded 26 of the films that played at Cannes this year and serves as a pipeline to encourage co-financing, supporting important markets like the documentary MeetMarket at Sheffield. The list of films with British producers and talent attached that were aided in some way by Creative Europe includes a large chunk of the most acclaimed films of the last five years.

During last year’s Oscar season, The Guardian speculated that 12 of the UK-based Oscar contenders, seven of which received direct EU funding from Creative Europe, would not exist or have their British connection should the UK leave the EU.  Among them: “Carol,” “45 Years,” “Shaun the Sheep,” “Brooklyn,” “The Look of Silence,” and “Amy.”

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