UK box office top 10 sees musicals challenge Hollywood blockbusters

11 January 2019 3 min. read
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The UK box office enjoyed a strong year in 2018, in line with the global industry. However, while international audiences were driven predominantly to comic-book blockbusters, British film-buffs were also commonly drawn to musicals and children’s classics.

Unsurprisingly given the box office results of recent times, the world’s highest grossing film of 2018 was Marvel’s superhero ensemble blockbuster ‘Avengers: Infinity War’. Raking in £1.61 billion throughout its run in cinemas, the latest edition of the hit comic-book franchise was a large factor in how Walt Disney Studios became the fastest studio ever to reach $1 billion (£786 million) for the year at the domestic box office. 

Disney, which following a series of high-profile purchases in the past decade owns Marvel Entertainment, and the Star Wars cinematic universe, reached this goal on the day of the ‘Avengers’ film’s release in the US, taking just 117 days to surpass $1 billion in the US alone. January hit ‘Black Panther’ also played a key-role in this, and ultimately brought in £1.34 billion globally, according to statistics from Box Office Mojo. Disney’s huge year at the box office was further supplemented by the strong performance of the latest Pixar release, ‘Incredibles 2’, which received brought in more than £970 million.

Global box office revenue 2018 (£ billion)

Sequels monopolised the top 10 of the worldwide box office, even beyond Disney’s stranglehold on the market. ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ made more than £1 billion in ticket fees, while ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ brought in more than £620 million, and ‘Aquaman’, ‘Venom’ and ‘Deadpool 2’ further secured the dominance of comic-book properties in global cinemas. The success of Harry Potter-related franchise fodder ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ meant that only one film in the top 10, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, could obtain a leading share of the market without being part of a broader cinematic universe.

In  the UK market, franchises still enjoyed the best returns from cinema goers, however, the local market also boasted a much keener partiality to musicals. Freddy Mercury’s biopic predictably performed even stronger in the UK, the British singer-songwriter’s home market, becoming the fifth biggest grossing film in British theatres during 2018 with a haul of £48.1 million. The film was joined by late release ‘A Star is Born’, a musical starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, which took £29.2 million in the UK last year.

UK box office revenue 2018 (£ million)

Both films were far surpassed in the UK by the Abba-themed juggernaut of ‘Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!’, however. A sequel to the 2008 hit ‘Mamma Mia!’, the movie contained an all-star cast featuring Meryl Streep and Cher, and subsequently brought in £65.4 million in the UK, to become the second most popular film in British cinemas for the year.

While Hollywood blockbusters still dominated the UK market, the UK-US co-production of ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ also enjoyed an improved performance in the home market of children’s author J.K. Rowling. The UK market also saw ‘Peter Rabbit’ become a surprise top 10 entry for similar reasons, with the classic children’s author Beatrix Potter – who wrote the book behind the film – having also hailed from Britain.