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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 09:01 GMT 10:01 UK
UK film firms fail targets

Darren Waters
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Three film firms awarded almost 100m in lottery money to make 90 British movies over six years have produced less than half the expected number.

In 1997 three firms - DNA Films, Pathe, The Film Consortium - were awarded 95.67m by the Arts Council of England to try and revitalise British film.

Patsy Kensit in Janice Beard
Janice Beard was a big flop
The three "franchises" represented a "major boost for the British film industry", said the then secretary-general of the Arts Council, Mary Allen at the glitzy launch in Cannes.

But exactly six years later the three companies have produced 44 films, and still have more than 27m left of the 95m given to them.

Many of the films produced flopped at the box office.

Francois Ivernel, head of Pathe films, told BBC News Online: "We have made less films that was originally planned."

Some of the films we should not have made. But we were right to try
Francois Ivernel, Pathe films
But he defended Pathe's record: "It is still a larger number of films than any other franchise."

No-one from The Film Consortium or DNA Films was available for comment.


Box office flops include Beautiful Creatures, Janice Beard 45 WPM, The Woodlanders, Strictly Sinatra and The Final Curtain.

Beautiful Creatures
Beautiful Creatures failed to excite the box office
Mr Ivernel admitted: "Some of the films we should not have made. But we were right to try."

But there have been a few successes, among them zombie film 28 Days Later, the award-winning Ratcatcher and period comedy An Ideal Husband.

The 100m announcement was made in Cannes on 15 May 1997, following a bidding process involving more than 37 different film firms.

The three firms are now negotiating with the Film Council for more time to spend the remaining funds.

A spokesman for the Film Council said it could not comment on the track record of the three companies while it was in "confidential negotiations" over how the "contract exit" will take place.

The Film Council now has responsibility for film production in the UK, including the allocation of lottery funds, and distributes up to 55m a year for film productions.

BBC News Online understands that the three companies will be granted their wish to keep hold of the remaining funds with the Film Council expected to put strict checks in place over how the money is spent.

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