UK Box Office Recovers To Pre-Lockdown Level; Exhibitors Celebrate Best Weekend In 14 Months

It was a hugely positive first weekend back in business for UK cinemas, with Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway leading the market to north of £7M ($10M) in total. That’s the best Fri-Sun since cinemas were first forced to close by the pandemic in March 2020.

The UK government’s initial lockdown was announced on March 16, 2020, and the last time the market topped this weekend’s takings was March 6-8 2020, when the box office notched $12M, with Pixar’s Onward as the top grosser.

Since then, despite cinemas being open for a decent stretch between summer and November 2020 prior to the second nationwide lockdown, no weekend has come close to that total, with a high watermark of $8.6M in late August when Tenet was released.

As per our international box office report this weekend, Peter Rabbits 2 was the second biggest opening in the UK since the pandemic began, behind only Tenet. Admissions are understood to have been north of one million over the three days.

The unseasonably bad weather in the UK this weekend will have been a shot in the arm for cinemas, but the country’s major chains today are celebrating what they see as a promising return to form, despite the various restrictions placed upon venues and the public’s continued wariness of coronavirus transmission.

Odeon said it sold 300,000 tickets across the entire week, with around 60% of audiences viewing Peter Rabbit 2. It also noted significant concessions sales, with 9,000 portions of nachos, 3,000 hot dogs and 25,000 litres of Ice Blast and Coke sold. The exhibitor also reported “strong pre-sales” for upcoming titles Cruella, Demon Slayer and The Conjuring.

Cineworld also described the weekend’s takings as “strong”.

“This weekend’s performance went beyond our expectations as customers were eager to return to the movies and enjoy the full movie experience, including the traditional popcorn which led to strong concession income,” the company said in a statement on the reopening.

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