U.K. box office receipts totaled £1.277 billion ($1.6 billion) in 2018, down fractionally from the £1.279 billion recorded in 2017 but still an impressive result for a World Cup year, according to the U.K. Cinema Assn., citing figures from Comscore. The 2018 admissions numbers have not yet landed but are on track to hit a 40-year high.
The flat box-office haul despite greater admissions reveals a downward trend in average ticket prices, spurred by strategic discounting by several of the larger cinema chains. The decline in average ticket price comes in spite of the furor surrounding Odeon’s £40 ticket for the plushest seats in its refurbished flagship theater in London’s Leicester Square.
Admissions are expected to come in between 170 million and 180 million. The uptick in Brits’ movie-going is all the more surprising given the nation’s love of soccer, which created a summer lull as the national team fared well at the World Cup.
The picture in the U.K. also contrasts with that in several other parts of Europe. In France, box office fell 3% year-on-year and admissions dropped 4.3%, although, with 200 million tickets sold, the country remains the largest movie-going nation in Europe.
Box office receipts in Italy slumped to their lowest in a decade, and ticket sales tumbled to fewer than 90 million in a country where 100 million is considered the benchmark. The Spanish box office was also down by 1.9% and admissions by 2% at 97.7 million.
The U.K.’s standout year – in terms of admissions – was driven by a larger-than-usual clutch of movies that made over £40 million ($51 million), including “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Peter Rabbit” and “Black Panther.”