James Bond has seen off a late challenge from Spider-Man to emerge as the biggest cinema hit of the year, as UK box office earnings almost double from the record lows of 2020 – but the overall popularity of cinema-going still remains well down on pre-pandemic levels.
When the final ticket stubs are officially counted, it is forecast that the UK box office will reach £557m this year, almost double the £297m recorded last year, which was the lowest take since 1992.
James Bond: No Time To Die provided cinema owners with the pandemic-busting blockbuster they have been waiting for as Bondmania brought film fans back to venues in numbers not seen since before the coronavirus pandemic.
Daniel Craig’s final outing as the superspy 007 has made more than £96m at the UK box office this year, making it the third highest-grossing film of all-time, after the franchise stablemate Skyfall, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The top earner at the UK box office is also the fourth biggest film of the year globally, taking $774m to date.
The emergence and rapid spread of the Omicron variant has failed to dent the popularity of the latest Hollywood blockbuster, Spider-Man: No Way Home, which has raced to more than £64m at the UK box office in its first two weeks in cinemas.
Already the second biggest film in the UK this year, Spider-Man is the first movie to break $1bn at the global box office since 2019, giving cinema chain owners hope that film-going can permanently return to pre-pandemic levels.
“While cinema-going levels are moving upwards, a ‘draw’ movie will push attendance up to previous levels and beyond,” said David Hancock, a film analyst at Omdia. “Most screens are now able to open but some engrained customer hesitancy is affecting overall grosses. Bond brought back the older demographic to cinemas, and also brought back the more hesitant.”
Bond, and now Spider-Man, have provided tangible proof to financially stretched cinema owners that the enduring popularity of movie-going has not seen a permanent shift to home streaming during extended periods of closure throughout the pandemic. (Guardian)