According to the statement from Warner Bros, the Barbie film had a direct impact of £80m on the UK economy and resulted in the creation of 685 jobs, as reported in a government inquiry.
The Hollywood film company was one of many groups that provided written testimony for a government committee’s investigation into the British film and high-end television sector. The inquiry aims to examine ways to maintain and improve the UK’s status as a top location for production, as well as how to best support independent film production.
Warner Bros stated in its report that Barbie, which was primarily filmed at Leavesden studios in Hertfordshire, UK, was their top-performing movie in theaters. They also mentioned that while filming in the UK, the production contributed £80 million to the local economy, employed 685 individuals, utilized over 6,000 extras, supported 754 nearby businesses, and paid out £40 million in wages to locals.
Fulwell 73, a production company part-owned by James Corden, which is involved in a joint venture to build a 20-stage film studio in Sunderland, said that the UK faced “a shortage in studio space and a skills deficit that threatens its future growth” and that the high-end TV industry “could be a £10bn UK success story in the next few years, or it could rapidly decline as our competitors improve their offer – what we do now will determine which road we take”.
On the other hand, individuals from the self-sufficient industry had a more negative outlook. Seasoned filmmaker Michael Kuhn, known for works like The Duchess, Suite Française, and Florence Foster Jenkins, expressed that in the UK, the independent film market is practically non-existent, and the studio sector is heavily influenced by primarily US-based companies. He also stated that the exhibition industry is declining due to the studios’ preference for streaming services, disregarding the importance of theatrical releases.
Mike Goodridge, an independent producer who has contributed to the creation of films such as Love & Friendship, The Florida Project, and The Triangle of Sadness, expressed that being an independent producer in the UK is extremely challenging. He noted that the UK government has a history of promoting US productions to film in the UK and hire British professionals instead of supporting the growth of a sustainable domestic industry. Goodridge emphasized the need for assistance for UK producers and expressed disappointment in seeing talented individuals from the UK working exclusively on American projects, leading to the decline of the UK’s once thriving movie industry on a global scale.