U.K. box office up 5% in 2008
U.K. box office grosses for 2008 were up 5% from the previous year to £949 million ($1.44 billion), according to figures released Friday by the Cinema Exhibitors’ Assn.
Despite the credit crunch, biz has remained one of the more recession-resistant leisure activities.
The whammo perf by Abba musical “Mamma Mia!” led the B.O. charge. By mid-December the feel-good movie musical released by Universal on July 11 had clocked $105.3 million, passing “Titanic” to become the highest-grossing pic ever in the UK.
Bond pic “Quantum of Solace” consoled Sony with $77.2 million, while Batman pic “The Dark Knight” delivered $74 million for Warner Bros.
The next best performers were “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” ($61.3 million, Paramount) and “Sex and the City” ($40.3 million, Entertainment Film Distributors).
“Traditionally, cinema holds up well during an economic downturn, and this last year has been no exception as audiences took advantage of affordable and escapist entertainment,” said CEA policy exec James Bird, adding, “When the final figures come through, we expect cinema admissions for 2008 to have reached at least 167 million, up 2.5% year on year.”
July was a particularly good month with five of the top 10 earners debuting, undercutting industryites’ concerns that summer’s lack of bankable sequels would bruise biz.
Nonsequel summer fare that hit the B.O. bull’s eye included “Iron Man” ($26.3 million), “Kung-Fu Panda” ($30.6 million), “Wall-E” ($34.7 million) “Hancock” ($37.7 million) and “Sex and the City.”
Christmas holiday season biz wasn’t bumper, but that was no great surprise given “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” had been the anticipated star attraction until it moved to summer 2009.
“The Day the Earth Stood Still” and, to a lesser extent, “Australia” failed catch on big with Brit cinemagoers.
But there were hot perfs over the chilly festive period. Animated sequel “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” trundled along nicely throughout December, as did laffer “Four Christmases.”
Jim Carrey starrer “Yes Man,” based on a book by Brit journo Danny Wallace, has been the top film every day since its Dec. 26 debut.