Britain's burgeoning film industry has received an unexpected boost with a $1.5 million (GBP1 million) fund designed to help low-budget films make it to the cinema.

After the international sleeper success of hits like LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, East is East, Bend It Like Beckham and The Full Monty, the country's FILM COUNCIL is hoping the fund will make British movies more widely available.

Many independent films suffer at the box office because the costs of individual prints - up to $1,500 (GBP1,000) a time - make them too expensive to distribute widely. Most UK films are released with just 70 copies, while blockbusters like the Harry Potter films may number up to 1,000 prints.

Companies can now apply for up to $450,000 (GBP300,000) from the fund, which will cushion their losses if the film does poorly. The amount given depends on how well a film performs, with support reducing as UK box office takings rise.

PETER BUCKINGHAM, the Film Council's head of distribution, says, "It will give UK audiences greater choice and more chance to see entertaining, distinctively British films."

12/06/2003 17:35