The first World War II thriller by Sam Mendes was the biggest draw in UK cinemas, despite the release of just one top 10 title after the March cutoff.
According to the annual report by box office analysts Comscore, Sam Mendes’ first World War II drama 1917 proved the biggest earner of 2020 at the UK box office in a year rocked by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Released in the UK on January 10, 1917, it was inspired by stories told to the director by his grandfather Alfred Mendes, who served on the Western Front.
The movie was awarded three Oscars, starring George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman as two soldiers charged with delivering a critical message across the battlefield (for cinematography, sound mixing and visual effects).
Aided by its high visibility at the award ceremonies, in British cinemas, 1917 grossed £ 44 million. 2020 was, however, a devastating year for UK cinemas, with mass cinema closures and cinema release cancellations, beginning with the first national closure in March, resulting in a 76 percent decline from the previous year.
Overall, UK cinemas in 2020 accounted for £ 322.2 million, down from £ 1.3 billion in 2019.
Ironically, the first quarter of 2020 surpassed expectations, rising by more than 20% compared to 2019, but there was practically no cinema activity in April, May and June until tentative reopenings in early July led to a moderate revival, taking in a total of more than £ 70 million for four consecutive weeks in September and October. Before the pandemic, nine of the top ten movies were released, including runner-up Sonic the Hedgehog (£ 19.3m), as well as Bad Boys for Life (£ 16.2m, # 4), Dolittle (15.9m, # 5) and Parasite (£ 12.1m, # 8).
Little Women (£ 15.3m, 6th position), Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (£ 11.3m, 9th place) and Jumanji: The Next Stage (£ 11m, 10th place) all entered theaters in 2019. Tenet, which finished the year in third place with a cumulative box office of £ 17.4 million and debuted in the U.K., is the only title on the list released after March. Like almost all other Hollywood-produced movies in August, their release dates were postponed. Although Tenet director Christopher Nolan was lauded for his devotion to trying to revitalize the moviegoing habits of the public, the enormous production budget of the film meant that its limited results harmed hopes for a widespread return to theaters by Hollywood studios and helped Warner Bros. producers decide to release their forthcoming blockbusters in the United States on their streaming service. Smaller cinemas, like the majority of independent UK cinemas, did marginally less poorly than multi-screen cinemas. Compared to 77% for multiplexes with six or more screens, cinemas with only one screen saw a 68 percent decline in business.
Comscore indicates that an important factor is “the continued availability of UK arthouse/independent titles, event cinema, catalog and short film titles is an important factor” and that “multiplexes are more dependent on the pipeline of big Hollywood blockbusters” that have all but dried up. Top 10 films in 20201 at the UK box office. 1917 – £44sqm.
The Hedgehog Sonic – £19.3m3. Tenet – 17.4m4 pounds.
For Life, Bad Boys – £ 16.2m5.
Dolittle – 15.9m6 pounds.
Little Women – £ 15.3m (2019 theater debut, total £ 22.1m)7. The Lords – £ 12.2m.8. Parasitic – £12.1m.9.
Star Wars: Skywalker’s Rise – £ 11.3m (2019 debut, total £ 58.2m) 10. Jumanji: The Next Stage – £ 11m (2019 debut, total £ 36.8m).