By Mike Collett-White
LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday urged independent UK film makers to focus on box office success, ahead of a review to be published next week into the government's policy on the movie industry.
The film industry contributes an estimated 4.2 billion pounds ($6.5 billion) to the economy each year, including from independent pictures that do well commercially and blockbusters like the "Harry Potter" series, which are made in Britain but bankrolled by Hollywood studios.
"The UK film industry, the skills and crafts that support it, and our creative industries more widely, make a 4 billion pound contribution to our economy and an incalculable contribution to our culture," Cameron said.
He was due to visit Pinewood Studios, where hit movies like the James Bond franchise are shot, later on Wednesday to meet small and medium-sized businesses involved in film.
"But in this year when we set out bold ambitions for the future, when the eyes of the world will be on us, I think we should aim even higher, building on the incredible success of recent years," Cameron added in a statement.
"Our role, and that of the BFI (British Film Institute), should be to support the sector in becoming even more dynamic and entrepreneurial, helping UK producers to make commercially successful pictures that rival the quality and impact of the best international productions.
"Just as the British Film Commission has played a crucial role in attracting the biggest and best international studios to produce their films here, so we must incentivize UK producers to chase new markets both here and overseas."
Two recent, low-budget independent British films made a major splash both in terms of ticket sales and awards.
"The King's Speech" won four Oscars including best picture in 2011, and earned $414 million in global ticket sales on a production budget of just $15 million, according to Boxofficemojo.com.
Two years earlier, "Slumdog Millionaire" was the big winner picking up eight Academy Awards including best picture and hitting $378 million at global box offices from a $15 million budget.
According to official figures, UK films accounted for 14 percent of the global 2010 box office tally of $31.8 billion. But 12.6 percent was accounted for by UK movies wholly or partly financed and controlled by U.S. studios.
Former Labor culture minister Chris Smith is set to publish the findings of his review into the film sector next week.
It is expected to provide incentives to British film makers to develop projects that deliver commercial as well as cultural success, while the BFI is likely to be urged to reinvest returns back into successful companies.
The review is also likely to support the work of the British Film Commission which promotes Britain as a place to produce movies.
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)