British Cinemas Set For Record 2011 While US Box Office Dwindles

According to The Independent, UK cinema takings are set to break through the £1 billion barrier for the first time, largely due to the rise of ticket prices, attendance and the strength of British films.

2010 saw UK cinema takings reach as high as £988 million, with admissions reaching 169.2 million. 2011 is expected to see admissions cross over 170 million, though this wouldn’t be the first time, as during the last decade, UK cinema attendance reached 175.9 million in 2002.

Interestingly it is British (or co-British) productions that make up the top three films of the year in the UK, with Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, The King’s Speech and The Inbetweeners Movie. Strong word of mouth not only helped the latter two films, but also contributed to Bridesmaids and Rise of the Planet of the Apes being huge hits.

The top ten highest grossing movies in the UK in 2011 is as follows:

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – £73.09

2. The King’s Speech – £45.69

3. The Inbetweeners Movie – £45.03

4. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – £32.92

5. The Hangover Part II – £32.83

6. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 – £29.97 (still on general release)

7. Transformers: Dark of the Moon £28.11

8. Bridesmaids – £23.02

9. Rise of the Planet of the Apes – £20.77

10. Johnny English Reborn – £20.52

Disney’s Tangled follows closely behind with £20.47 though this could be overtaken by Aardman’s Arthur Christmas, which has currently earned £19.65 million since its release.


The success in the UK seems to be a contrast to the US, which tells a completely different story.

The following are the top ten highest grossing films at the US box office during 2011:

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – $381,011,219 

2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon – $352,390,543 

3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 – $271,934,000 

4. The Hangover Part II – $254,464,305 

5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – $241,071,802 

6. Fast Five – $209,837,675 

7. Cars 2 – $191,452,396 

8. Thor – $181,030,624 

9. Rise of the Planet of the Apes – $176,711,822

10. Captain America: The First Avenger – $176,654,505

The US box office currently stands at an annual gross of $9.955 billion, though it’s projected to cross the $10 billion mark once the year is over. A fantastic total, but this is down compared to last year’s $10.565 billion, a difference of about $500 million (2009 was a record year at $10.595).

However, what’s worrying is that the total for 2011 comes from 1,250 billion tickets sold (estimated to be 1,280 billion for the end of the year). Attendance in the US is down compared to 2010 when 1.339 billion moviegoers flocked to the big screen. In fact, this is the lowest level of attendance in the US since 1995! So what’s happened here?

Many are speculating that the lack of an Avatar sized blockbuster, which became the most successful film of all time, has led to the decline. Compared to 2010, revenue was down during the first months of the year, though it’s possible that more is at play here.

The economic climate means that the youngsters that are so often targeted don’t have enough change left over to go catch a movie. Phil Contrino, editor of, argues that the economy is “worse for teenagers,” believing that “because they have less disposable income and because they are more plugged in to audience reaction on Facebook and Twitter, the teenage audience is becoming picky. That’s a nightmare for studios that are used to pushing lowest-common-denominator films.” Not only has the cost of going to see a film increased to an average of $7.96, but it becomes even more of a problem when taking into consideration the premium prices when viewing a 3D film. 

Some would argue that the issue is the content itself. Films such as Green Lantern, Puss in Boots and Cowboys & Aliens underperformed at the US box office. Blockbusters like Battle: Los Angles, Real Steel, I Am Number Four, Happy Feet Two, Hugo and Scream 4 all may have looked like sure fire $100 million earners, yet they failed to gross even that much. Also, the majority of films that make up the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic are sequels, reboots or adaptations (Bridesmaids and The Kings Speech are an exception).

How we consume movies has also changed. “We are living in a different world today than we did in the mid-’90s in terms of the technology available to deliver media,” said analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “That may finally be having an impact.” Deciding to save money by waiting to catch films on Redbox and Netflix, or hiring them out through LoveFilm, could ultimately have a bigger effect in the future.

Next year brings comic book movies (The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Avengers, Judge Dredd), blockbuster sequels (Men in Black 3, Wrath of the Titans, G.I Joe 2, The Expendables 2), and two prequels (Prometheus and The Hobbit). These are just a handful of films vying for your attention. How you choose to view them (if at all) is a choice left to you.

Sources – Associated Press | The Independent | Box Office Mojo

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