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U.K. Box Office Shrinks in 2013, First Decline in 10 Years

Despicable Me 2
"Despicable Me 2"

Overall revenue fell one percent at the British box office, while Universal's "Despicable Me 2" and "Les Miserables" were the top two performers.

LONDON -- The U.K. box office for 2013 fell one percent year-on-year, pulling in $1.92 billion (£1.17 billion), the first slump in 10 years and the biggest decline in more than 20 years, according to data from box office research giant Rentrak.

On paper, 2013 was always going to be a tricky year for exhibitors and distributors to pull in the crowds with no Harry Potter movies or a James Bond franchise offering to entice folks into theaters.

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Coupled with a summer of mostly pleasant weather -- widely regarded by U.K. cinema chain operators as the biggest threat to bodies in seats -- and other distractions including the Royal birth and Andy Murray's Wimbledon mens' singles title win, the year struggled to hit the previous year's tally, which had been buoyed by the record-breaking box office of Skyfall, with Daniel Craig as 007.

The one percent fall in total U.K. box office is the first real fall in theatrical revenue here since 2003, when it was down 0.3 percent on 2002, Rentrak reported.

Apart from that year, the U.K. has been up every year since Rentrak started tracking in 1991.

Rentrak noted there has been zero-growth years at the box office, as in 2006 and 2005, when totals remained the same. In fact, 2005's box office total fell 1.6 percent compared to the previous year, but the 2004 figure was for 53 weeks, while 2005′s figure was for 52 weeks, so they are not strictly comparable.

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In context, the U.K. box office gross of $1.92 billion represents a six percent share of the globe's B.O., and 19 percent of Europe's total, making it the fourth biggest territory in the world behind the U.S., China and Japan.

Warner Bros. led the distributors’ league, with a 16.45 percent share, followed by Disney (15.29 percent), Universal (15.09 percent) and Fox (13.38 percent).

Indie distributor eOne Films hit fifth place with a 9.04 percent share, ahead of Sony (8.72 percent) and Paramount (7.22 percent).

Lionsgate (4.73 percent), Studiocanal (2.84 percent) and Entertainment Film Distributors (2.05 percent) rounded out the top ten.

Despite coming third in the table, Universal had the top two grossing films during 2013, as Despicable Me 2 grossed $77.9 million and Les Miserables rung up $66.8 million.

Disney's Iron Man 3 ($60.8 million), Warner's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ($56 million in 2013 and still in theaters) and Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($53.3 million) followed Universal's top two.