Arts and Culture

Big screen bounce back: how UK cinemas are recovering from the pandemic

COVID-19 lockdowns hit cinema where it hurts, but the industry is clawing it way back.

Analysis conducted on data released by the UK Cinema Association shows the extent of the UK cinema industry’s recovery.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, UK cinemas closed for months at a time on two separate occasions – causing the industry to lose out on millions of pounds.

Many people in this time began subscribing to streaming services, with a survey by finder showing that nine out of ten Brits have used a streaming service in the past 12 months and that 58% of UK households have at least one subscription to a streaming service, a 5% increase from 2020, meaning that these people will likely go to the cinema less.

Numerous films that were due to be released exclusively in cinemas were streaming online as well during their premier.

One such film, Marvel’s Black Widow, was released in the cinemas but was available to Disney+ subscribers already at the time of release.

This meant thousands of people opted instead to watch the film from home, meaning that UK cinemas missed out on what was expected to be a large profit.

The Marvel films traditionally make cinemas across the world millions in profits.

Four of the international top 10 highest grossing films belong to the Marvel franchise, and so do two of the UK’s all-time top grossing films.

Marvel have also just announced Phase 5 of the franchise which will span over 2022, 2023 and 2024, setting the industry up to see massive ticket sales and profits over the next few years.

2020 saw the lowest cinema admissions in the history of the UK’s cinema industry.

In 2021 technology research firm Omdia forecast that the UK’s admissions would not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023.

However, 2021 saw the levels increase by 68% showing that the industry is well on the way to recovery.

The UK, while struggling, is still bouncing back to its former glory. The UK had the third highest admissions rate in Europe at 76.2 million admissions in 2021.

The high admissions rate suggests that UK cinemas are indeed thriving and there remains hope for the industry.

The UK has had the eighth biggest increase in box office earnings in Europe, with a rise of 87.7% in 2021 from 2020.

This increase really proves that the UK Cinema is recovering with a boom.

In November 2022, UK cinemas saw the release of some highly anticipated films, the biggest of all being Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which so far has made just under £28 million, a huge boost for the picture houses.

The Black Panther sequel was highly anticipated, after being delayed not only due to COVID-19 but also the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman, the lead of the first film.

The actor was suffering with cancer while filming the first film and died before the release of the second film.

Many fans were eager to see how the film would tribute the actor and how the sequel would adapt to the loss of Boseman.

Clayton Davis, senior awards editor for Variety, said: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a beautiful tribute to Chadwick Boseman. Visual stunner, with Angela Bassett commanding every scene she inhabits.”

Black Panther isn’t the only big film to be released this year: James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water is due to be released on 16 December and is the sequel to the highest ever internationally grossing film.

It is expected to explode at box office due to just how long the fans have had to wait for this film to be released.

Ticket prices have been forced to rise with inflation and are at an all-time high.

The increase is also the biggest rise UK cinemas have ever seen.

This, combined with the cost-of-living crisis, may yet prove another challenge in the future as many people will have to make cuts on luxuries such as cinema trips, no matter how big the film is.

However, the cinema industry is ever evolving and finding new ways to excite us and keep us coming back for more.

And while streaming services are more popular than ever, there’s no feeling quite like sitting back and enjoying the big screen experience.

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