Silver Reel is latest production firm to move into UK TV market

Mark Sweney


The Swiss film company is to branch into high-end TV drama, lured by the weakened pound and generous tax credits for big-budget series.

Silver Reel, the Swiss finance and production company behind films including the upcoming Breathe, Andy Serkis’s directorial debut featuring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy, is launching a €50m (£45.6m) fund to make TV drama in Britain, taking advantage of the weakening of the pound since the Brexit vote.

Silver Reel has invested more than £500m making 35 films in the last decade, frequently working with UK producers and talent in films such as The Wife, starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce. It is now looking to break into the booming British market for high-end TV drama.

Claudia Bluemhuber, managing partner at Silver Reel, said it plans a big expansion of its presence in London with the launch of a TV production operation.

She said Silver Reel had been looking to make the move for a while, but had been waiting for the right time. “We believe – despite Brexit – the time is now. The weakening pound is making this strategic move more cost-effective. There is a great deal of creative talent in the UK, and given our expertise in high-end [film] drama, we can easily transfer this to the world of television with a European focus.”

The company has earmarked a €50m fund to create TV series – some of which may be adaptations from its film slate – with a number expected to focus on the the high-end £1m-per-episode range.

This level of spending makes productions eligible for the government’s attractive tax credit programme, which has been taken advantage of by dramas such as Netflix’s £100m The Crown, HBO’s Game of Thrones and Amazon’s Outlander.

“Between series that Silver Reel is developing and series that other partners are bringing to us, we are looking into deploying about €50m, and our target is a minimum of two shows per year, starting 2018,” said Bluemhuber.

The drop in the pound’s value has made it at least 10% cheaper to produce high-quality TV programmes in Britain.

The BFI estimates that, of almost £500m of inward investment in high-end TV shows in Britain last year, the majority (65%) came from US businesses such as Amazon, HBO, Sony and Netflix.

However, Silver Reel is the second sizable European player to look to take advantage of factors including Brexit, following the French production firm Newen Group.

In May, the maker of lavish TV period drama Versailles – the most expensive French-language drama ever made, which airs on the BBC – said it was setting up a London office with €50m (then £42.4m) of funding to make top-quality English-language dramas with British production companies.

The BFI says that inward investment by foreign companies in high-end TV drama has almost doubled, from £252m when the tax credit was introduced by the government in 2013, to almost £500m last year.

Tax relief payouts on the 36 high-end TV shows that qualified for the programme last year rose from £104m to £163m.




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