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UK cinema hits record box office with highest-grossing year ever

The total cinema box office in the UK & Ireland has beaten the record set in 2016 to become the highest-grossing year ever. The total across UK & Ireland was £1,378,280,334, up 3.6% from £1,330,545,090 in 2016. This is particularly impressive given that 2016 was a 53-week year, while 2017 was a 52-week year (the year includes all Friday-to-Thursday play weeks where the Friday falls into that calendar year). Comparing a like-for-like period of 52 weeks in each year, 2017 is up 6.1% versus 2016. The record has now been broken in each of the last three years (2015-2017), following a small drop of 2.7% in 2014.

Final 2017 admission figures are not yet available but are expected to be slightly above the 2016 total.

 Phil Clapp, CEO of the UK Cinema Association, said, “Alongside a strong and diverse film slate, today’s box office figures are testament to the unprecedented levels of investment made by UK cinema operators in 2017 in enhancing the big screen experience. From new site openings and refurbishments to technological advancements, these efforts have ensured the sector continues to thrive in the face of new competition from online platforms such as Netflix. It’s clear that the UK public still turns to cinema to get the “wow” experience they can’t enjoy anywhere else.”

The growing success story of the UK cinema industry means that it now contributes half a billion pounds to the UK economy each year, employs more than 17,000 people directly and supports countless other local services.

That contribution will continue its upward trend in 2018 when at least 20 new cinema state-of-the-art sites across the UK will open their doors to the public.”

Like 2016, 2017 offered a broad range of titles to audiences. So far in 2017, five films have passed the £40m milestone, and Paddington 2 will make it six titles in the next few days; in 2016, five titles passed £40m, led by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (£66.0m). 2017 has seen ten films take over £30m, a feat achieved by twelve titles in 2016 and only eight titles in 2015.

Top 10 films in UK & Ireland in 2017:

Data up to 4th January 2018

1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney): £73.1m (still on release)

2. Beauty And The Beast (Disney): £72.4m

3. Dunkirk (Warner Bros): £56.6m

4. Despicable Me 3 (Universal): £47.8m (still on release)

5. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (Disney): £41.0m

6. Paddington 2 (StudioCanal): £39.3m (still on release)

7. It (Warner Bros): £32.3m

8. Thor: Ragnarok (Disney): £31.0m (still on release)

9. Spider-Man: Homecoming (Sony): £30.4m

10. La La Land (Lionsgate): £30.4m

Star Wars: The Last Jedi jumped ahead of Beauty And The Beast in the final few days of the year, with distributor of both titles, Disney, releasing three of the year’s Top 5 titles. The Last Jedi has already passed the total recorded by Rogue One last Christmas, and will break into the Top 5 films of all time by the end of its run; fifth position is currently held by Titanic (£80.2m), behind Avatar (£94.0m) and led by Star Wars: The Force Awakens (£123.2m).

Two original properties feature in the Top 10: Christopher Nolan’s World War II drama Dunkirk, and modern musical La La LandDunkirk is Nolan’s most successful release, narrowly beating the final instalment of his Dark Knight trilogy. La La Land recorded the fourth-highest gross for a live-action musical, behind only Beauty And The BeastMamma Mia! and Les Miserables (all of which were based on pre-existing material).

Overall, 874 films and events were released into cinemas during 2017; this is a slight reduction from 2016’s 900 releases, following significant annual increases from around 500 releases a decade ago, suggesting that we may have reached a peak in the number of theatrical releases. Some titles which might have received a theatrical release are instead finding their audiences on alternative platforms, with companies such as Netflix and Amazon releasing films online. Most recently Netflix streamed their original production Bright, directed by Suicide Squad’s David Ayer and starring Will Smith, Joel Edgerton and Noomi Rapace.

Lucy Jones, Executive Director at industry analysts comScore says, “Audiences want the right content on the right platform. The latest box office figures confirm that audiences still feel that films are best enjoyed at the cinema with the biggest possible screen, the best sound, comfortable seats and the communal experience. Despite embracing online services, there’s still a significant appetite for social interaction in the real world.”

Disney was the top distributor for a second consecutive year, taking £265.1m (19.2% of the total market), despite releasing only six films in the year. Four releases from their Lucasfilm, Disney and Marvel brands featured in the Top 10, with their other releases Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge and Cars 3 appearing in the 2017 chart at positions 22 and 32 respectively. Warner Bros took second place with £223.2m (16.2% share), up from third in 2016, closely followed by Universal on £214.9m (15.6%) and 20th Century Fox with £207.5m (15.0%). Sony took fifth place with £138.4m (10.0%). In total, 143 distributors released films in 2017, with 111 releases from the Top 5 distributors accounting for over 75% of the box office revenue. The forthcoming merger between Disney and Fox will create a powerhouse distributor with around one-third of the market.

Four British productions / co-productions featured in the overall Top 20: Dunkirk at no. 3, Paddington 2 at no. 6 (still on release), Kingsman: The Golden Circle at no. 15 and Murder On The Orient Express at no. 16. Local film production is in robust health, with plans for a major new production studio in Dagenham, East London to capitalise on the strength of local talent, crew and post-production facilities. British talent featured prominently in the top films of the year, most notably The Last Jedi’s Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Andy Serkis. Murder On The Orient Express is expected to be the first in a series of Agatha Christie adaptations, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh; Death On The Nile will be next.

Top 10 British Films in UK & Ireland in 2017:

Data up to 4th January 2017

1. Dunkirk (Warner Bros): £56.6m

2. Paddington 2 (StudioCanal): £39.3m (still on release)

3. Kingsman: The Golden Circle (20th Century Fox): £24.8m

4. Murder On The Orient Express (20th Century Fox): £23.9m (still on release)

5. T2 Trainspotting (Sony): £17.0m

6. Baby Driver (Sony): £13.0m

7. Alien: Covenant (20th Century Fox): £12.9m

8. Lion (Entertainment Film Distributors): £11.8m

9. Victoria And Abdul (Universal): £10.1m

10. The Death Of Stalin (eOne): £5.0m (still on release)

The top spot in 2018 is expected to be a close-fought battle between Avengers: Infinity WarJurassic World: Fallen KingdomSolo: A Star Wars Story and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald. Disney/Pixar’s Day of the Dead animation Coco should ensure a strong start to the year in January, quickly followed by Aardman’s Early Man. February brings trilogy-closer Fifty Shades Freed and Black Panther, the next instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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