LONDON — They said it would be boffo but it has turned out to be whammo.
Summer 2007 at the U.K. box office is the biggest on record in terms of both grosses and admissions, according to hot-off-the-press Nielsen EDI figures compiled Sept. 7 especially for Variety.
The summer — taken as the 18 full weeks following the Friday of the first public holiday weekend in May — has clocked a total gross of $763,992,879 (£377,965,438) and estimated admissions of 75,291,920.
Those results are 18% ahead of summer 2004 — the previous best — which amassed a total gross of $643,415,147 and 70,865,069 estimated admissions.
The 2007 figs are up 30% on last year’s summer which, held back by the soccer World Cup, managed a $588,688,851 total gross.
A big 2007 summer was predicted by industryites. Indeed, most of the chatter at the June 6 Film Distributors’ Association’s summer season launch lunch was of the likelihood that this would be the ultimate summer on record.
“I would be surprised if this summer does not prove to be the biggest,” said Josh Berger, managing director of Warner Bros. U.K. “The big event movies bring in mass audiences who may then be drawn in to see other films.”
But the colossal total take has taken almost all by surprise.
“There is always so much hype and you never know for sure how well product will play,” said Tim Richards, Vue Entertainment CEO. “This summer has absolutely exceeded our expectations.”
Richards attributes the success primarily to the movies. “As I always say, if you give people good movies they will come and see them.”
But a big assist goes to persistently dreary, rainy weather, which had Brits looking for indoor forms of entertainment rather than a trip to the beach or park.
“The weather has been a perfect storm for exhibition but one mustn’t forget the bad weather also hurt trade,” noted Richards, referring to the severe flooding that put some Vue cinemas out of action at the busiest time of year.
The fact that there was no major soccer tournament, such as the World Cup or European Championships, to distract potential cinemagoers also helped boost B.O.
Pretty much every summer 2007 tentpole has met or exceeded industry expectations.
Three-quels have led the charge with “Spider-Man 3” ($68 million), “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” ($81.5 million), “Shrek the Third” ($77.6 million), “Rush Hour 3” ($19.9 million), “Ocean’s Thirteen” ($26.6 million), “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” ($24.9 million), and, most recently, “The Bourne Ultimatum” ($38.4 million) all hitting B.O. paydirt.
“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” has proved the boy wizard franchise can magic up big B.O. in summer with a year-so-far best $98.7 million running cume.
TV show spin-off “The Simpsons Movie” has displayed genuine four-quadrant appeal and boasts $76 million and counting on the clock.
Other big summer performers are “Transformers” ($45.8 million), “Live Free or Die Hard” ($28.1 million) and surprise hit “Hairspray” ($24.8 million.) The femme-skewed musical has worked as effective counterprogramming to the muscular popcorn actioners.