Figures for 2020 UK box office released by Comscore – and separate figures for admissions from the Cinema Advertising Association – have confirmed the devastating effect that restrictions around the COVID-19 outbreak had on the UK cinema sector, with both down over three-quarters on 2019.

Total revenues for year came to £296,716,078, 76 per cent down on the 2019 figure of £1,252,361,845 and breaking a sequence dating back to 2011 of UK box office exceeding £1 billion.

Admissions figures for the year – at 43,981,705 (75 per cent down on 2019) – provide further evidence of the enormous challenges faced by UK cinema operators during the year, which saw UK-wide shutdowns of cinemas from the middle of March until early July, and then again at the end of the year.

Commenting on the figures, UK Cinema Association Chief Executive said:

‘No one would present these numbers as anything other than hugely disappointing, but they very much reflect the challenges that 2020 presented to UK cinema operators, as it did to so many other leisure, retail and hospitality sectors.

The irony is that the early weeks and months of the year saw the sector outperform both 2018 and 2019, which were themselves the two most successful years for UK cinema-going since 1970. And when cinemas were able to open over the late Summer months and into the Autumn, the feedback from returning audiences both on the safety but also the enjoyment of the experience was hugely positive.  This pays testament to all of the hard work that our members put into delivering the rigorous safeguarding measures agreed with government, something which I know will stand us in good stead when cinemas are able to re-open in the coming months.

During this current time, all cinemas will require ongoing financial support from Government, a point made clearly in our ‘Keep the Magic Alive’ campaign, something which has clearly struck a chord with so many cinema-goers. But the determination shown during the year by those working in the sector, and the support of the cinema-going public in all manner of ways throughout these challenging times,, reinforces our optimism that when recovery comes, audiences will again eagerly embrace the unique experience that only the big screen can offer.’