2020 U.K. Box Office Drops 76 Percent as '1917' Tops Beleaguered Year

George MacKay in 1917
Universal Pictures/Photofest

Universal's '1917.'

'Tenet' was the only film released post-lockdown to crack the U.K. box office top 10 in a year blighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The box office for the U.K. and Ireland — somewhat unsurprisingly — slumped by a record margin in 2020, down 76 percent from 2019.

Following five consecutive years of topping £1.3 billion ($1.8 billion), widespread lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a box office total of just £323 million ($439 million), according to Comscore's newly-released annual report.

After a promising start to 2020, which Comscore says saw revenues up 20 percent year-on-year, from March, when the first nationwide lockdown began, the number of cinemas remained below usual levels for the rest of the year. Even when the closures were lifted and all regions were permitted to open between July and September, many cinemas opted to remain closed. The U.K.'s largest operator Cineworld famously announced in October it was shuttering all of its sites, blaming the limited number of major studio releases.

The situation meant that nine of the year's top 10 performing films were released before the first Q2 lockdown. The list was headed by Sam Mendes BAFTA-winning 1917, which took £44 million ($60 million), followed by Sonic the Hedgehog ($26.2).

Tenet, in third, was the only post-lockdown release to make the top 10, taking $23.6 million. The postponement of major releases and studio's moving their titles to streaming platforms also saw Disney lose the top distributor spot after four years of dominance. That position went to 1917 distributor eOne, which amassed $67 million despite only releasing five new films.

2021's box office is likely to start in similar bleak fashion, with Comscore's annual report released just as U.K. authorities announced a third nationwide lockdown that will see cinemas shuttered until — at least — mid-February.

See the top 10 of 2020 below.

1. 1917 (eOne): £44.0 million ($60 million)
2. Sonic The Hedgehog (Paramount): £19.3 million ($26.2 million)
3. Tenet (Warner Bros): £17.4 million ($23.6 million)
4. Bad Boys For Life (Sony): £16.2 million ($22 million)
5. Dolittle (Universal): £15.9 million ($21.6 million)
6. Little Women (Sony): £15.3 million (£20.7 million), released in 2019 with a $30 million lifetime
7. The Gentlemen (Entertainment): £12.2 million ($16.5 million)
8. Parasite (Studiocanal): £12.1 million ($16.4 million)
9. Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (Disney): £11.3 million ($15.3 million), released in 2019 with a $79 million lifetime.
10. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony): £11.0 million ($14.9 million), released in 2019 with a $50 million lifetime)