U.K. Box Office Bucks European Downward Trend for 2018 With $1.6B Haul

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY - Rami Malek -live aid- Publicity-H 2018
Courtesy of Alex Bailey/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Despite a summer heat wave and no James Bond, the year saw nine titles surpass $40 million to match 2017's total.

While many European countries saw their box offices suffer in 2018 (France recorded a 3 percent drop, while Italy fell 5 percent), the U.K. managed to buck the trend of its neighbors. 

According to the U.K. Cinema Association, the box office reached 1.277 billion pounds ($1.628 billion) for the year, just 0.1 percent down from 2017's 1.279 billion pounds. And this came without the domination of a Star Wars Christmas release or a James Bond title, and following a summer heatwave, coupled with a World Cup soccer tournament keeping people out of cinemas due to England's strong showing. 

The 2018 number was buoyed by a bumper crop of films surpassing the $40 million mark, including Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Deadpool 2, Peter Rabbit, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Bohemian Rhapsody, Black Panther, Incredibles 2, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again and Avengers: Infinity War (which tops the year's list with $96.6 million).

While the cinema admissions figures haven't yet been released, they are expected to surpass 2017 numbers and could well hit a 50-year high. Admissions in November reached 14.8 million, up 5 percent from the same month in 2017, leaving the sector just 14 million shy of the 176 million mark for 2018, the highest figure since 1970.

"We know that there has been significant strategic discounting in the sector so admissions will undoubtedly be up by a larger margin — how large we’re still waiting to hear," Phil Clapp, CEO of the U.K. Cinema Association, told The Hollywood Reporter.