Britain's film industry is booming. British films are selling well at the box office, British directors, writers and actors are winning plaudits and awards, and we many massive films such as the new Star Wars are being filmed here to take advantage of our superb crews and special effects departments.
Yet the number of British films making their way into our multiplexes is disappointing. This is no reflection on the quality of British cinema its almost entirely the result of a distribution system dominated by distributors owned by Hollywood studios.
Giving BBC Films a new distribution arm with a big marketing budget would give British cinema the financial muscle to compete with the US-owned distributors for multiplex slots and audiences. This in turn would mean more private investment going into British films as investors realise the increased returns they could now achieve from a strong box-office run (compared with the current more likely scenario of a week in select - mostly London - cinemas and DVD sales).
Britain has talent in filmmaking, it's true potential to rival Hollywood could be unleashed if BBC Films was backed to become a champion of British cinema as a distributor rather than just co-funding productions. Best of all, if enough films prove successful their box office returns would at least offset the ones that don't succeed thus making the enterprise cost neutral and if potentially profit making which, because of the Beeb's non-profit nature, would mean a new revenue stream to reinvest in more investment in British films or offsetting recent Tory cuts to the main BBC budget.