UK box office down 88% on Barbenheimer peak

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The Hollywood strike’s end offers hope in the longer term, but UK cinemas are back in the box office doldrums following the peak of Barbie and Oppenheimer.

Back in early summer, the blockbuster pipeline for autumn looked a little thin for the cinemas that depend on such films to get audiences through the doors. Since then, matters have only worsened with November’s biggest film, Dune: Part II, having been postponed by Warner Bros because of the strikes in Hollywood.

The Barbenheimer phenomenon offered hope that audiences might continue to buy tickets for non-franchise, original cinema, but there really hasn’t been anything released since that has been able to capitalise on the stunning summer that Barbie and Oppenheimer enjoyed. While not exactly the same, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune sequel and Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers were perhaps best placed to profit from a Barbenheimer slipstream. Both were postponed because of the ongoing actors’ strike.

According to Screen DailyUK cinemas’ box office takings are down some 88% on the Barbenheimer peak, with both franchise films (such as A Haunting In Venice and The Expend4bles) struggling alongside original movies like Dumb Money. With Dune: Part II off the schedule, a lot of cinema chains will be looking hopefully towards November’s The Marvels.

That dip in takings doesn’t mean there aren’t wonderful films out there: Past Lives, Talk To Me, Scrapper, The Equalizer 3 are just some of the films that have followed in Barbenheimer’s wake and offered audiences a great return for their time and money. However, when cinemas are looking instead for one film to ‘rescue’ the end of the year, that tells you everything you need to know about the problems with the current theatrical model, something Martin Scorsese has a thing or two to say about in a recent interview.

Read more: Martin Scorsese urges filmmakers to ‘save cinema’ from franchises

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