UK Box Office revenues surpass £1bn for the first time since 2019

UK box office revenues for 2023 increased by over 8 percent from the previous year, according to the latest industry numbers.

Figures released by Comscore show that the total revenues for 2023 were £978,528,029, an increase of 8.3 percent from 2022.

Box office receipts for the UK and Ireland, commonly treated as the same territory for box office purposes, also surpassed over £1bn for the first time since the pandemic.

The full report suggests a return to form for cinema viewing in the UK and Ireland, as 2023 proved to be the first full year since 2019 with no Covid-19 restrictions.

James Connor, Senior Policy and Projects Manager for the UK Cinema Association (UKCA), said: ”We expected and hoped that the box office admissions would increase as we got further from Covid.

”We have seen year-on-year increase across the board.

”People went back a number of times to see the same films and that’s reflected in the admissions and box office.”

Infographic on UK Box Office Revenue compared to film releases year-on-year between 2017 and 2023

Summer 2023 was the most profitable period for cinemas in the UK and Ireland, with six of the top 10 titles premiering between May and July.

Starting with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in May, profits reached their apex in July when Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One, Barbie and Oppenheimer were all showing in cinemas across the UK and Ireland.

The simultaneous releases of Barbie, a fantasy comedy centred on the titular Mattel doll, and Oppenheimer, an epic biographical account of J.Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb, will be analysed by studios in the years to come.

Rather than exist in competition, both films were viewed by audiences as a double-bill despite their diametrically opposing subject matter, birthing the Barbenheimer phenomenon.

Top 10 highest grossing films in the UK & Ireland for 2023. Credit: Comscore

Commenting on Barbenheimer, Connor said: ”Last year we had two very good films that not many of us in the sector expected to do so good.

”Barbie becoming Warner Brothers’ biggest film. Oppenheimer becoming [Christopher] Nolan’s biggest film.

”It created a cultural moment.”

Connor was quick to reference the role of the audience in driving Barbenheimer, as the event was led primarily by users on social media rather than efforts by the two pictures’ respective production and distribution studios.

He said: ”I would say Barbie and Oppenheimer was a very unique experience.

”It wasn’t planned or coordinated.

”It was the audience responding to both films at the same time.”

Connor also attributed part of the sector’s recovery to the practicality of cinema-going amidst a cost-of-living crisis.

He cited promotions such as Meerkat Movies, where buyers of qualifying products from Compare the Market were entitled to 2 for 1 cinema tickets every Tuesday or Wednesday for a whole year.

Connor said: ‘It’s probably the most loved out-of-home experience.

”It’s certainly the most affordable.”

He concluded by reiterating his optimism for the future of the cinema industry’s continued recovery from the travails of Covid-19.

He said: ”There’s confidence in the market.

”There’s confidence in the audience.”

Featured image credit: depositphotos.com

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