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U.K. Box Office Falls for First Time in a Decade

Numbers drop 1% in 2013 to $1.92 billion with 'Despicable Me 2' leading all sales

LONDON — The U.K. box office fell 1% in 2013 to £1.17 billion ($1.92 billion), according to Rentrak, which reported that this was the first real fall in a decade, and the biggest drop in more than 20 years.

The U.K. gross repped a 6% share of the world’s B.O., and 19% of Europe’s total. It is the fourth biggest B.O. territory in the world, after the U.S., China and Japan.

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

Indie distrib eOne Films came fifth with a 9.04% share, ahead of Sony (8.72%) and Paramount (7.22%).

They were followed by Lionsgate (4.73%), Studiocanal (2.84%) and Entertainment Film Distributors (2.05%). Other distribs took the remaining 5.13%.

Universal had the top two grossing films during 2013 — “Despicable Me 2,” which grossed $77.9 million,  and “Les Miserables,” which took $66.8 million. They were followed by Disney’s “Iron Man 3” ($60.8 million), Warner’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” ($56 million in 2013, although it is still in theaters), and Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” ($53.3 million).

The 1% fall in total U.K. B.O. reps the first real fall in theatrical revenue in the territory since 2003, when it was down 0.3% on 2002, Rentrak reported. Apart from that year, the U.K. has been up every year since Rentrak started tracking in 1991.

2006 was down 0.02% versus 2005, but that was really a flat performance rather than a fall, Rentrak said. 2005’s B.O. was down by 1.6% vs. 2004, but the 2004 figure was for 53 weeks, and 2005’s figure was for 52 weeks — so it was not a like-for-like comparison.

The 2013 fall can be blamed on the lack of a big hitter in comparison with the previous year, which saw a stellar perf by “Skyfall.”

“2012 was particularly strong, with three films grossing over £50 million ($82.1 million) — none achieved this milestone in 2013,” Lucy Jones, Rentrak’s business development director for EMEA, said.

“We also had the biggest film of all time in 2012, ‘Skyfall,’ grossing over £100 million ($164 million). In comparison, 2013’s top release was ‘Despicable Me 2’ on £47 million ($77.9 million).

“This left a big gap to be filled in the latter part of the year, and we didn’t quite make it.”

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