The United Kingdom is one of the leading box office markets worldwide. Over the past few years, UK films have grown to account for almost 25 percent of global box office revenues, leaving no doubt that filmed entertainment has become an essential driver of economic growth and a key cultural export alike. But while revenues and audience figures have previously thrived, the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic caused significant disruption to the entire industry. Box office revenues generated at UK cinemas fell by almost 80 percent due to nationwide movie theater closures. At the same time, the global box office revenue of UK films also declined at an unprecedented speed.
UK film production
UK film production spending has gradually increased in recent years, fueled by a surge in inward investments. In 2019, inward features such as “1917” and “No Time to Die”, which were shot in the UK but substantially financed and controlled from abroad, accounted for almost 90 percent of the UK’s 1.95 billion-pound-spending, highlighting the region’s appeal as filming location for international productions. Nevertheless, the overall number of feature films produced in the UK has visibly declined in recent years. This trend was accelerated in 2020 when the pandemic temporarily halted film production. Considering that there were much fewer releases than usual, it comes as no surprise that cinema advertising spending in the UK also plummeted from 228 million in 2019 to 46 million British pounds in 2020.
Leading movies in and from the UK
The UK is home to some of the world’s most successful blockbusters and film franchises. One of the most well-known franchises is arguably the "Harry Potter" series, which has drawn millions of visitors of all ages to the cinema in the early 2000s. In 2020, Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” was the top-grossing UK film worldwide, with almost 300 million U.S. dollars in box office revenue, while war epic “1917” was the most successful film at the domestic box office that year. Back in 2019, “Avengers: Endgame” claimed the spot as the top UK film released in the UK and Ireland. The Marvel blockbuster was a joint UK/US production that was partially shot in England and Scotland.
Consumer behavior and cinema closures
Due to a wave of cinema closures amidst the coronavirus pandemic, cinema admissions in the UK dropped from 176 million in 2019 to an all-time low of 44 million in 2020. Consequently, cinema-going spending also plummeted from an average of 18.7 British pounds to just 4.4 pounds per capita that year, leaving many cinema owners struggling to maintain their business. While cinema operators tried to woo moviegoers back to the big screen, the postponement of highly anticipated releases such as “No Time to Die” along with the ongoing shift towards streaming services made a recovery to pre-Covid times extremely difficult.
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In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 35 most important statistics relating to "Film industry in the UK".