UK box office 2018 verdict: a remarkable year for the cinema industry

Screen | 12/21/2018 | Staff
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This was a year in which the UK navigated a turbulent political landscape, with the deadline for the country’s exit from the European Union looming and the terms of a Brexit deal still not agreed or finalised in the week before Christmas. Against that unsettled backdrop, however, the country’s cinema industry has had a quite remarkable year.

Admissions and box office declined in equivalent mature markets across the continent, from a modest contraction in Spain to alarming plunges in Germany and Austria. The UK seemingly faced the same challenges: the FIFA World Cup, a scorching heatwave and the ongoing march of Netflix and the streaming giants. But box office was up 3% for the year to the end of November, and admissions were up 5%.

Step - Comments - Phil - Clapp - Executive

“We are undoubtedly out of step,” comments Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association, representing the interests of the exhibition industry. “In mature western and southern Europe markets, almost none of them are flat, some are in deficit and some are horribly in deficit.” Clapp points to the level of investment that his exhibitor members have been making in cinemas in the UK, as well as suggesting a possible link between cinemagoing and “the feelgood factor and the need to get away from watching the country tear itself apart on the nightly news”.

An examination of the films that have performed particularly well appears to back up the latter notion. “It seems a bit glib to call it escapism, but it’s clear that musicals and films with a strong music component are having a golden period at the moment,” says Tom Linay, head of film at UK cinema advertising agency DCM. “People get swept up in that genre more than any other types of film, and as a result they’re huge.”

Linay - Superhero

While Linay adds that “the superhero...
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