Despite the growing economic uncertainty of Brexit and increasingly varied competition from various online streaming platforms, the UK is on course for its highest annual cinema attendance in almost 50 years, according to trade body The UK Cinema Association.
The latest figures for the month of November currently show that total theatrical admissions stood at 14,847,358, which is up more than 5% on the same month in 2017. It means the UK is on course to hit the 176 million mark for the year, providing December performs as it has in recent years. If so, it would mark the first time cinema attendance has reached 176M since 1970.
Mary Poppins Returns is likely the film that exhibitors will be looking at to push the number over the top, but a broad range of titles throughout the year, including Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, Avengers: Infinity War – currently the highest grossing film of the year – and the latest Fantastic Beasts instalment have helped fuel what is being called a bumper year for studio level releases.
In 2017, admissions reached 170 million and the box office stood at £1.3 billion, its highest level in at least 15 years.
The large numbers this year look even more impressive when one considers that there has not been a James Bond film released in 2018 – a franchise which generally tops the year-end box office – and the England football team’s march to the World Cup semi-finals in the summer likely kept plenty of people away from multiplexes.
Despite the presence of Netflix and co., the silver screen is still seen as a major attraction, especially for big studio films. While cinema’s middle class of movies and smaller genre fare are either being eroded or finding new homes on streaming platforms, the major Hollywood productions still carry an awe that draws consumers to the cinema.
So the tradition of the cinema is not going away anytime soon, especially for blockbusters, which is likely music to the ears of the UK’s commercial exhibition sector. Right in time for Christmas.