Action film flop Take Down received £3m in Welsh loan

By David Deans & Huw Thomas
BBC News

image copyrightPinewood Pictures/Orion
image captionTake Down was filmed in Wales and received a £3m loan from the Welsh Government

An action film that was released last year and went straight to DVD in the UK was given £3.1m of taxpayers' money.

Take Down was the first to benefit from a Welsh Government scheme that gave £11.9m in loans to TV, film and video games.

The movie has so far only recouped £940,000 of the loan.

Welsh Government said revenue from film and TV shows it invested in would be paid back over several years, saying it was "premature" to judge their success.

So far £3.6m has been recouped by the Welsh Government from the 11 projects given cash by the Media Investment Budget, according to a response to a Freedom of Information Act request by BBC Wales.

It revealed the scale of investment from the fund for the first time.

Only one project - Their Finest - has so far earned back the loan given to it, although most of the 11 are yet to reach a release.

The Welsh Government said the figures were "not a true reflection" of the projects' performance.

It said the loans were long-term commercial investments in the productions, with funds expected to be recouped for a further decade.

Suzy Davies, Tory AM, said taxpayers would be right to question the investment in Take Down but Tom Ware, of the University of South Wales, said it was too early for anyone to criticise the Welsh Government.

image copyrightPinewood Pictures/BBC Films/Welsh Government/Lions
image captionTheir Finest is the only one of the projects to have so far recouped its loan in full and make a profit

Take Down, which was produced by Pinewood, was given a loan of £3.14m.

The production, which was shot in Pinewood Wales as well as Anglesey and the Isle of Man, has so far recouped £941,413.

According to the Internet Movie Database, the film was released on DVD in the UK in August 2016, although it appeared to have a cinema release in the US.

The FOI response revealed:

  • Glossy BBC Worldwide/Amazon Prime drama The Collection received a loan of £1.15m and a grant of £600,000 - ministers have recouped £119,075 so far
  • BBC Films' British war comedy Their Finest - which lists Pinewood as a producer - was loaned £2m and has recouped nearly £2.1m for Welsh Government, making a profit so far of £49,985
  • Horror movie Don't Knock Twice was given a loan of £629,516 and received a grant of £75,000 from the Wales Screen Fund. It has recouped £469,415 for ministers
media captionTom Ware said it was too early to criticise the Welsh Government on its investments in film

It also listed a number of projects that have received loans from the scheme that are yet to reach a release:

  • £1.2m for Show Dogs, a comedy that is being released in the UK next year and was mostly shot at Pinewood Studio Wales
  • £2m for Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires, which also received a £673,784 Wales Screen Fund grant
  • £850,000 for World War 1 drama Journey's End, being previewed in Cardiff on Thursday - £80,000 has been recouped so far
  • £25,000 each for the development of a film called Lionel The First, TV show Jack Staff, and TV project Minotaur

A total of £317,000 has also been loaned to Tiny Rebel Games, based in Newport, for the game Dr Who Infinity, in partnership with BBC Worldwide.

The Media Investment Budget was announced in 2014 as part of a deal with Pinewood, which also saw the company establish a studio in Wales that has been used for some of the productions.

The budget, which had £30m available to it, had been managed by Pinewood but the Welsh Government announced earlier this month that the company pulled out of the arrangement.

image copyrightLookout Point/Artis Pictures/Amazon
image captionA still from the trailer for The Collection, which is streaming on Amazon - the series received a £1.1m loan

Ms Davies, Welsh Tory culture spokeswoman, said: "Even accepting that film production has a financial cycle which means that you don't see profit straightaway, these are not very cheering figures."

Referring to the investment in Take Down, she said taxpayers "would be right to question how much Welsh Government expected to get back from the investment of over £3m".


The Welsh Government said that the repayment of the investments depended on factors such as international sales and recoupment of tax credits.

It said a percentage of the profits continues to be passed to the Welsh Government until the investment is fully repaid, together with "any profit share agreed at the outset".

media captionAdam Price AM, Plaid Cymru's economy spokesman, said there was confusion about film industry policy

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said that over the last five years, film and TV productions it has funded have spent in excess of £100m in Wales, creating the equivalent of 2,000 jobs lasting one year and supporting "hundreds of businesses".

"As investors, we recognise that all productions carry an element of risk and that some will be more successful than others," she said.

"It is important to recognise that the productions being discussed are all at different stages of their life cycle, ranging from pre-production through to international cinema release or TV broadcast.

"Revenue generated from these productions will continue to come back to Welsh Government for several years, and trying to judge them or determine their success at this early stage is both premature and naive."

Pinewood declined to comment.

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