Comscore has released its annual box office review, revealing total box office revenue across UK & Ireland in 2021 rose 85% to £596.9 million from 2020’s total of £323.2 million.
Prior to the pandemic, annual box office exceeded £1.3 billion in each of the five years up to 2019. However, cinemas were closed for the first 19 weeks of 2021, allowed to reopen from Monday 17 May, and have not been subject to enforced closures in any UK nation since.
497 new titles were released into cinemas in 2021, up from 444 in 2020. Comscore expects 2022 to return to the usual volume, which peaked in 2019 at 938 new releases. Looking only at the period when cinemas were able to open, 2021 had just 20% fewer titles released mid-May to December than 2019, which had 625 releases in the equivalent period.
While final 2021 admission numbers are not yet available, Comscore expects the U.K. total to be around 74 million.
The year’s box office was led by James Bond film No Time to Die, which is the no. 3 film of all time with £96.5 million, behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens (£123.2 million) and Skyfall (£103.2 million). December release Spider-Man: No Way Home, which is still in cinemas, is no.10 in the all-time chart with £74.8 million and is expected to overtake 2019’s The Lion King (£76 million) and will then challenge Titanic (£80.2 million) for eighth position.
Top 10 films in UK & Ireland in 2021 (Data from 1st January 2021 to 6th January 2022)
- No Time To Die (Universal): £96.5m
- Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony): £74.8m – still on release
- Dune (Warner Bros): £21.8m
- Shang Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings (Disney): £21.2m
- Peter Rabbit 2 (Sony): £20.4m
- Black Widow (Disney): £18.8m
- Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony): £18.0m
- Free Guy (Disney): £16.8m
- Fast & Furious 9 (Universal): £16.4m
- Eternals (Disney): £14.8m
Going into 2022, all cinemas now remain open, with a whole host of big movies set to be released, including Morbius, The Batman, Avatar 2, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Jurassic World: Dominion and Top Gun: Maverick, to name just a few. Check out 2022’s full film slate here.
Phil Clapp, Chief Executive of the UK Cinema Association commented, “While the challenges presented to the sector by COVID during 2021 were still all too apparent, the extraordinarily positive public response to the return of cinemagoing in the second half of the year, and in particular their recognition of the huge efforts made by cinema operators to ensure the continuing safety and comfort of audiences and team members alike, augur extremely well for a strong and continued recovery in 2022 and beyond.”