A surprisingly high number of films played in UK cinemas last year, contributing to a positive return towards 2019 box office numbers.
Just last week we reported that the global cinema box office in 2022 was down around 35% on 2019, the last year which was fully free of pandemic-related influence. Now, figures specific to the UK have arrived, and in comparison the situation is slightly healthier.
In 2022, the UK box office was down 28% compared to 2019, a slighter better return than the global shortfall of 35%. What’s more, 911 new releases played in British cinemas last year, a figure that comes pretty close to equalling 2019’s figure of 938.
So why the continued shortfall?
The pandemic-related problems in the production pipeline of blockbuster films was the issue here, a problem that was especially apparent in late summer when multiplex cinemas had very little in the way of ‘big’ movies to fill their screens with. In 2019, there were 186 wide releases that opened on more than 250 screens. Lat year, that number dropped to 135, demonstrating just how significant those larger productions have become to UK box office totals.
Sadly, despite other types of films being available to screen throughout that late summer drought, multiplexes opted to focus on giving wide releases even more screens than usual, whilst also focusing on repertory screenings. A post-pandemic opportunity for multiplexes to slightly shift from the ‘blockbuster-centric’ model of UK exhibition was lost. Instead, the industry will continue to rely on the biggest ten or so films to earn almost half of its annual revenue.
Still, the overall numbers represent an upwards bounce that’s ahead of the global picture and if nothing else, that’s good news for UK cinemas and on a Monday morning, we’re always happy to report on good news.
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