Hype behind Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Notting Hill and Wallander equates to millions in free advertising for filming locations

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New insight into the links between film and television productions and tourism was revealed at an international screen tourism conference by Film London on November 13th, the lead partner for major European project EuroScreen.

The study demonstrates how social media commentary generated by films and television shows can effectively generate millions of pounds worth of free online advertising for the locations and destinations they feature on screen. The research shows that annually Notting Hill generated the equivalent of £19.5m in online ad spend for London, while the Harry Potter series netted £10.4m and Wallander yielded an incredible £17.9m for Ystad in Sweden.

Screen tourism also resulted in other significant boosts. Game of Thrones, for example, generated £1m for Malta despite the series being more closely affiliated with its ‘home’ in Northern Ireland, while productions with less international reach generated as much as £6.9m worth of promotion to domestic audiences.

Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London and British Film Commission, said: “This research shows that productions don’t just sell cinema tickets and box sets, they also sell the places where they’re made. Looking at a range of projects – from indies through to global blockbusters and television series’ – the results show productions get people talking about the destinations and locations they feature. In many cases this directly translates into visits. Quite simply, this is free advertising, and emphasises the power of screen productions as a tourism driver. I thank INTERREG for their vision in funding this project which has resulted in this valuable research, which we hope to build on, and thank all our EuroScreen partners.”

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “London’s rich culture attracts tourists in their millions and many are inspired by the locations they see on screen, which help showcase the city. A trip to Platform 9 ¾, 221b Baker Street, or the blue door in Notting Hill helps to bring to life memorable scenes from films and on television. That’s why we’re working hard with Film London to support the capital as a film making centre. Not only is it good for the economically important film sector, it’s a fantastic way to promote our city to visitors.”

The research was commissioned by EuroScreen, an INTERREG IVC-funded initiative which seeks to capitalise on the major economic and cultural opportunities afforded by ‘screen tourism’; this being people visiting a country, city or location which they have seen in feature films or on television.

The research was conducted by social media intelligence agency Human Digital, who processed almost 35 million comments and interactions across sites including Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Pinterest. Their research examined activity relating to four European locations – London (UK), Ystad (Sweden), Apulia (Italy) and Malta – along with a range of films and television shows linked to these places.

Their analysis found a clear correlation between place and screen, with the resulting ‘chatter’ (likes, mentions, retweets etc.) equivalent to paid-for advertising ranging from 10s of thousands to millions of pounds. It is believed to be the first time such methodology has been applied to the tourist industry.

The research was announced at Seen on Screen: Capitalising on Screen Tourism on 13 November, a conference marking the end of the three year pan-European partnership through EuroScreen. Presented with VisitBritain and with Warner Bros. Studio Tour London sponsoring the event’s evening reception, speakers and subjects included a keynote interview with famed producer Iain Smith (24: Live Another Day, Cold Mountain and Seven Years in Tibet); the success of Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, with a presentation from Warners’ SVP and MD of their Leavesden Studios; a case study on the upcoming international and domestic campaign around the release of Paddington; how Game of Thrones has impacted on Northern Ireland and an examination of the success of Nordic Noir and its direct impact on the growth of international tourism.

The full report is available here.