Hearing about the latest investment by Netflix into the UK Film & TV sector reminded me of a pleasant film made 60 years ago 'The Grass is Greener.'
You may have never heard of the film and I doubt whether it has made onto any Top 100 All Time Favourite Films rankings. 'The Grass is Greener' stars Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in the roles of an Earl and a Countess who open up their stately home to visitors due to financial troubles. Along comes Robert Mitcham (what a great cast; it also includes Jean Simmons), an American with pots of money who woos (yes, it is an old film) Deborah Kerr.
Anyhow, its only similarity to the current Netflix investment is the theme of the injection of money into the UK. The similarity ends there; Mitcham does not succeed in his ‘wishes’, whilst the same can't be said for Netflix, which is certainly achieving success.
Last year Netflix funded productions in the UK totalling £500m, and have just announced they are increasing this to a £750m annual spend. In the past year Netflix made 50 television shows and films in the UK. That is employment for a significant number of people.
Netflix are opening new 100,000sq ft. headquarters in London and employing 269 people. Additionally, they have a ten year deal with Shepperton Studios giving them the capacity to handle their vast scale of productions. In the past year, top-end successful productions by Netflix made in the UK have included The Crown, Sex Education and The Witches.
Overall, Netflix has a production budget of $17 bn; compared to the BBC's budget of £2.3bn. That’s a big divide.
The change in viewing habits has created a huge boost for Netflix and other streamers. Although new Netflix paid subscribers in the third quarter this year plateaued at 2.2m; this follows a surge in the previous two quarters, creating a total subscriber base of around 195m worldwide. That’s 195m individual subscriptions coming in every month!
The investment and commitment by Netflix into UK productions is another confirmation of how attractive the UK is for TV and film production. Apart from its generous film and high-end tax credit reliefs, it has a solid financial and legal infrastructure, plus an experienced, skilled labour-force for productions to tap into to ensure top quality workmanship.