UK Box Office Breaks Record in 2017
2017 was another great year for UK and Irish cinema after it broke the yearly box office record for the third time in a row. The total box office number was £1.38 billion, which is a 6.1% increase on the previous year. This is seen as a major boost to the film industry as it competes with the growing competition of online streaming services.
Phil Clapp, the chief executive of the UK cinema association stated: “It’s clear that the UK public still turns to cine to get the ‘wow’ experience they can’t enjoy anywhere else”. Clapp also touched on the positive ramifications for the British film industry: “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.”
The record was on track to be broken as early as October last year when The Film Distributors Association revealed that the UK box office had already passed the £1 billion mark. That was the earliest that British cinema had reached the billion benchmark. In comparison, to the same time last year, the UK box office was £60 million behind.
The top 5 films in the UK and Ireland were Star Wars: The Last Jedi (£73.1m), Beauty and the Beast (£72.4m), Dunkirk (£56.6m), Despicable Me 3 ($47.8m), and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (£41m).
The UK's success at the box office is in stark contrast to the U.S. 2017 takings, which were recorded as the lowest in 25 years. 1.239 billion tickets were sold in 2017 compared to the 1.315 billion in 2016, and the average ticket sale of 1.422 billion since 1992. The decline in ticket sales has been put down to the rise of online streaming services which have evolved from being rental platforms to film and television financiers in their own right. While Netflix has a lot of great films and series in its library, it has, along with Amazon Prime and Hulu, become hugely successful by creating original content. For instance, Hulu did well at this year’s Golden Globes picking up two wins for The Handmaid’s Tale (for Best TV drama, and Best Actress for Elizabeth Moss).
The question of where this leaves the film industry is a valid one. The film industry is struggling to keep up with new viewer habits. Variety suggests that there is also a financial issue with less investors willing to take on the risk of putting up money for films. In UK, the recent Brexit votes is also going to have ramifications on the industry post-2019. In response to these changes more studios are looking to platforms outside of cinema to promote films and generate revenue. Digital entertainment platform Foxy Casino has two officially licensed film games (The Big Lebowski and Ghost in the Shell) in its catalogue. It is through these digital outlets that studios hope to introduce new fans to their films and ensure that films like Ghost in the Shell, which was a big box office flop, continue to finance future projects.
With 2018 looking to be even bigger, it is likely that British cinema will continue to buck the trend and break box office records. In the current political and economic situation it is reassuring that the British public still seeks entertainment in the country’s cinemas.