Outlander, Avengers and Grand Theft Auto help boost value of Scottish screen sector to more than £250m

Outlander, Avengers: Infinity War and Grand Theft Auto have helped boost the value of Scotland’s TV, film and videogame sectors to more than £250 million a year.

Sunday, 12th December 2021, 11:59 pm
The sixth series of the Sony-Starz historical fantasy drama Outlander, which stars Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser, is due to be launched in March.

The made-in Scotland blockbusters have been cited in new research revealing that the screen industries are worth more than £13.48 billlion and sustainging nearly 219,000 jobs across the UK.

Of these, more than 4500 are thought to be supported north of the border annually.

The research, which covered the three years before the pandemic struck, found that TV and film production was worth £719 million to the Scottish economy between 2016 and 2019.

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Outlander has been made at Wardpark Studios in Cumbernauld since 2013.

The Screen Business report, published today by the British Film Institute, reveals that the overall value of the three sectors had soared by more than 56 per cent in the space of three years.It found that direct spending on high-end TV drama productions had overtaken the film sector by 2019, with shows like such as Outlander, Game of Thrones, The Crown and Peaky Blinders responsible for some £2.08 billion. Around £2.02 billion was spent making films including Avengers: Infinity War, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The BFI reported highlighted Wild Rose, the award-winning Glasgow-set drama following the fortunes of an inspiring country singer, played by Jessie Buckley.

When further spin-offs for the economy were calculated the UK film industry was said to be worth £7.68 billion and 120,000 jobs, with TV production worth a further £4.18 billion and 74,000 jobs, with further boosts delivered from the visual effects and gaming industries.

The report highlighted the industry’s early recovering from the 2020 pandemic shutdown, with around £1.8 billion spent on film productions between October 2020 and September 2021, and £4.14 billion on TV productions, nearly double the pre-pandemic figure.

Isabel Davis, Screen Scotland’s executive director, said:“The BFI’s report highlights how strongly the UK film and tv industry is performing. Scotland’s never been busier.

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in a scene from Marvel Studios' Avengers: Infinity War, which was partly shot in Edinburgh.

Feature films and television programmes from Scotland have been joined by projects produced here for the global streamers, including Amazon’s The Rig, Good Omens and Anansi Boys, Apple’s Tetris and the seventh series of Sony Starz’s Outlander.

“Our focus now is ensuring the optimal conditions for Scotland to originate its own work and to flourish alongside incoming productions.”

BFI chief executive Ben Roberts said: “We work with industry and Government to build the UK screen sector, and this is evidence of the strength of the tax reliefs and how they have supported a staggering level of production and jobs, and built business across the UK’s nations and regions.”

Scotland has seen a surge in interest in being used for film and TV productions since the UK was able to reboot in the summer of 2020 with strict Covid protocols in place. TV series filmed in Scotland include Vigil, Crime, Annika, Shetland and Guilt.

Rockstar North, the makers of the video game Grand Theft Auto, are based in Edinburgh. Picture: Cate Gillon

Shows due to be aired next year include The Rig, a supernatural thriller set on a North Sea oil rig, which was made by Amazon in a new studio facility in Leith, and Screw, a Channel 4 prison drama which was shot in Glasgow’s historic Kelvin Hall. It was announced last week that the BBC’s studio arm is to take over the running of part of the west end building to allow entertainment shows to be made there.