The new century has so far been a relatively successful one for the British film industry. Many British films have found a wide international audience due to funding from BBC Films, Film 4 and the UK Film Council and some of the independent production companies, such as Working Title, have secured financing and distribution deals with major American studios. Working Title scored three major international successes, all starring Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, with the romantic comedies Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), which grossed $254 million worldwide; the sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which earned $228 million; and Richard Curtis's directorial debut Love Actually (2003), which grossed $239 million. Most successful of all, Phyllida Lloyd,s Mamma Mia! (2008) which grossed $601 million.
The new decade saw a major new film series in the US-backed but British made Harry Potter films, beginning with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 2001. David Heyman's company Heyday Films has produced seven sequels, with the final two titles – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - released in two-parts in 2010 and 2011. All were filmed at Leavesden Studios in England.
Aardman Animations' Nick Park, the creator of Wallace and Gromit and the Creature Comforts series, produced his first feature length film, Chicken Run in 2000. Co-directed with Peter Lord, the film was a major success worldwide and one of the most successful British films of its year. Park's follow up, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was another worldwide hit, The film grossed $56 million at the US box office and £32 million in the UK. It also won the 2005 Academy Award for best animated feature.
However it was usually through domestically funded features throughout the decade that British directors and films won awards at the top international film festivals. In 2003, Michael Winterbottom won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for In This World. In 2004, Mike Leigh directed Vera Drake, an account of a housewife who leads a double life as an abortionist in 1950s London. The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. In 2006 Stephen Frears directed The Queen based on the events surrounding the death of Princess Diana which won the Best Actress prize at the Venice Film Festival and Academy Awards and the BAFTA for Best Film.. In 2006, Ken Loach won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival with his account of the struggle for Irish Independence in The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Joe Wright's adaptation of the Ian McEwan novel Atonement was nominated for 7 Academy Awards, includng Best Film and won the Golden Globe and BAFTA for Best Film. Most successful of all, Slumdog Millionaire - an Indian story that was filmed entirely in Mumbai with a mostly Indian cast, though with a British director (Danny Boyle), producer (Christian Colson), screenwriter (Simon Beaufoy) and star (Dev Patel) and the film was all-British financed via Film4 and Celador. It has received worldwide critical acclaim. It has won four Golden Globes, seven BAFTA Awards and eight Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Film.
Other notable directors working in Britain today include: Shane Meadows, Paul Greengrass, Christopher Nolan, Edgar Wright, Andrea Arnold and Stephen Daldry, whose debut film Billy Elliot (2000) became one of the most acclaimed and enduringly popular British films of its year.
Woody Allen became a convert to British filmmaking, choosing to shoot his 2005 film Match Point entirely in London, with a largely British cast and financing from BBC Films. He followed this with three more films shot in London. Other foreign directors choosing to shoot British films in Britain included Alfonso Cuarón with Children of Men (2006) and Jane Campion with Bright Star (2009). The decade also saw English actor Daniel Craig became the new James Bond with Casino Royale, the 21st entry in the official Eon Productions series.
Despite increasing competition from film studios in Australia and Eastern Europe (especially the Czech Republic), British studios such as Pinewood, Shepperton and Leavesden remained successful in hosting major foreign productions such as: