Cinema box office takings at 50% of pre-pandemic levels

UK cinema box office takings in the month since all Covid restrictions were lifted in England were half of their pre-pandemic level.

Box office tracker Comscore said £65.7m was spent on seeing films like Black Widow and Fast & Furious 9 in the four weeks after “freedom day” on 19 July.

The figure for the corresponding weeks in 2019 was £129m.

Cinemas said they were “very pleased” with the figures and “pretty confident” they will get back to previous levels.

It’s a similar picture in the US, where takings for the last four weekends have been 51% of the equivalent 2019 figures.

Many major movies that were delayed by Covid in 2020 have finally been released in cinemas this summer, but have not enticed the numbers they would have previously expected.

Continuing uncertainty in the US, where the Delta variant has recently led to rising cases, has disrupted release schedules again.

In recent weeks, Clifford the Big Red Dog, the Venom sequel and Hotel Transylvania 4 have either been pushed back or moved to streaming.

There has been speculation that the next James Bond outing No Time To Die – which is due out in late September in the UK after being delayed three times – could be postponed yet again. However, on Wednesday The Hollywood Reporter suggested that’s unlikely to happen.

“The conditions remain challenging, there’s no doubt about that,” said Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association.

“It’s clear that there is still some reluctance among certain audience segments to return, and that’s particularly true among older audiences,” Mr Clapp said. “There’s a continuing need to offer reassurance and to ensure that there’s the right film content for those older audiences.

“But broadly I think people [in the industry] are very pleased with the response of the public to the reopening of cinemas. The film slate is strengthening. We’re now seeing a major title released, if not quite every weekend, then every other weekend.”

The UK industry lost £2bn during the pandemic and no-one expected things to bounce back immediately, Mr Clapp said. “Everyone knew that we would need to have to work hard over the initial weeks and months. Everyone’s broadly where they expected to be.”

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