UK cinema admissions on course to be lowest since records began | Film

UK cinema admissions are set to hit their lowest level since records began almost a century ago, with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic wiping almost £1bn from box office sales.

When the final ticket stubs are counted at the end of the year, it is expected that British cinemagoers will have attended between 40m and 44m times this year, the fewest since records began in 1928. It is well below the previous nadir of 53.8m set in 1984, when hits included Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters and The Karate Kid.

Attendance this year will be about 75% down on the 176m admissions in 2019, one of the best years in decades.

The knock-on effect of record low attendance means box office sales are forecast to be the worst in almost three decades. The UK box office is estimated to be set to fall by a staggering 73% this year to £334m, the lowest total since 1992. Last year, the UK box office hit £1.25bn as global ticket sales set a record of $42bn.

“I’m very positive about the future of cinema, It definitely has a future, but I have to be honest, it is the worst year for admissions ever – almost 100 years – it can’t get any worse than that,” said David Hancock, the research director, cinema, at Omdia. “Factors are just stacking up with the [James] Bond film pulling out, Cineworld shutting down and various socialising restrictions and more localised lockdowns.”

This year, the coronavirus pandemic has shorn cinemas of the Hollywood blockbusters they desperately need to woo moviegoers back to the big screen as studios balk at the risk of premiering big-budget films that might fail at the box office.

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