Summer Blockbusters Can’t Save The UK Box Office

By Kieran Burt
Published: June 5, 2024 (Last updated: 2 weeks ago)
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May 2024 UK Box Office Results and Analysis
Anya Taylor-Joy looking in disbelief at the state of the UK Box Office.

May kicks off the summer movie season at the box office, and the month had some strong contenders to draw audiences to cinemas after an anemic April. Attractive prospects included Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, Ryan Reynolds starring in IF, the Mad Max franchise returning with the prequel Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, and everyone’s favorite cat Garfield in The Garfield Movie.

This comparison will show the pre-pandemic box office average (2015-2019, the red line), the post-pandemic box office average (2021-2023, the yellow line), and the current 2024 box office (the blue line). Numbers aren’t adjusted for inflation and are from the British Film Institute.

Weekend 22: May 31- June 2, 2024

May 2024 UK Box Office Results and Analysis

May 31-June 2

  • Weekend 22 saw the total box office for the top 15 films noticeably fall to £6,995,816 
  • IF managed to hold extremely well in its third week, coming in at number one with a total of £1,570,568. 
  • This weekend still couldn’t come close to the average box office total for the pre-pandemic era. 
  • And, as has been the trend all May, the box office total couldn’t match the total for the post-pandemic era. 
  • Weekend 23 sees the opening of Bad Boys: Ride Or Die and the small film Winnie The Pooh: Blood And Honey 2 

Weekend 22 saw a drop of 25% for the total box office total for the top 15 films to £9,275,133 with IF climbing back to the top of the box office in its third week. It’s a surprising return for the family film, proving more popular than IP-driven film The Garfield Movie. Though the latter only fell 36% compared to its opening weekend, a respectable hold. The same can’t be said for Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, which fell 51% and tumbled to number 4, below Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes

The average box office for the year continues to fall, now sitting at £9,848,599.73. It compares poorly to the weekly box office average for the pre-pandemic era – which sat at  £15,380,562.73 – and the post-pandemic era – which sat at £11,418,860.70. The gap between both eras is growing, a worrying sign.  

This weekend in the pre-pandemic era saw an average total of £13,105,332.80, as the summer slowly started to ramp up. 2024’s total is a whopping 47% less than this. The top-performing film for this era is 2017’s Wonder Woman, which had an opening weekend of £6,179,616. It’s a stark difference from the opening of the last film in the DCEU, 2023’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which could only muster a total of £2,484,442. The top-performing year for this weekend is 2019, with a total of £16,504,781, thanks to strong second weekends of the live-action Aladdin (£4,888,931), The Secret Life of Pets 2 (£2,940,835) and Rocketman (£2,486,043), and the opening of Godzilla: King of the Monsters (£3,507,717) contributing. 

The same weekend in the post-pandemic era had an average total of £13,365,833.67. 2024’s box office is 48% lower than that, the steepest fall so far this year. The top-performing film for this era was the second weekend of Top Gun: Maverick, jetting to heights of £10,325,500. The top-performing year for this weekend is 2023 with a total of £16,772,500, thanks to a great opening for Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse (£9,159,823), a strong second second weekend for the live-action The Little Mermaid and an OK third weekend for Fast X (£1,074,873) contributing. 

The lesson that studios should take from both 2019 and 2023 in particular is that they were the top-performing years in both the pre-pandemic ad post-pandemic eras because of the healthy box office, full of films that audiences wanted to see at the cinema. 2024 is lacking this, and the results are unsurprisingly dim. 

Next weekend sees the opening of Bad Boys: Ride or Die, an action throwback to the 1990s. Hopefully it can inject some fast-paced action into the box office too. 

Weekend 21: May 24-26, 2024

UK Box Office May 2024 Report and Analysis

May 24-26

  • Weekend 21 saw the total box office for the top 15 films increase in the UK box office increase modestly to £9,275,133. 
  • The Garfield Movie managed to beat Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga to number one with a total of £2,121,270 compared to £1,969,140. 
  • It still couldn’t reach the average box office seen in the pre-pandemic era
  • Nor could it reach the average box office that the post-pandemic era. 
  • Weekend 22 doesn’t see the opening of any major blockbusters.

Weekend 21 saw 28% increase the total box office total for the top 15 films to £9,275,133 with The Garfield Movie besting Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga to number one with a total of £2,121,270 compared to £1,969,140. Either are hardly totals that Sony or Warner Bros. Discovery would have been hoping for, despite being based on a well-known IP The Garfield Movie couldn’t beat the opening of IF that was aimed at similar family demographics. For its part, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga could hardly live up to the £4,538,933 opening of Mad Max: Fury Road back in 2015, though Fury Road also opened second to Pitch Perfect 2, demonstrating the niche nature of the franchise. 

The average total box office weekend for the year fell to £9,984,446.57, continuing to demonstrate the weak position the box office finds itself in. For comparison, the weekly average box office total for the pre-pandemic era was £15,488,907.02 and the post-pandemic era was £11,326,147.71.   

This weekend in the pre-pandemic era got to a total of £12,235,042.75, meaning that 2024’s total is 24% lower, which is one of the lesser drops of the year. The top performing film this weekend was the opening weekend of 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse with a total of £7,354,293, but the overall top performing year for this weekend was 2019 with a totoal box office of £20,001,497.

Things get slightly worse when this weekend is compared to the post-pandemic era, as the average total stands at £12,434,128.67. 2024’s box office is 25% lower. The summer box office was in full swing in 2022, and gathering steam in 2023. Illustrating this perfectly is the top-performing film for this era, 2022’s Top Gun: Maverick, opening at a staggering £15,931,497. While Deadpool and Wolverine might open well, cinemas can only hope for a box office behemoth like Top Gun: Maverick in 2024. 

It’s no surprise that 2022 was the top-performing year for this weekend with a total of  £19,481,973, with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness staying above £1 million in its fourth week of release, and even smaller films like Everything Everywhere All At Once contributing to the total. 

And that hints at the problem with this year, is the lack of films overall this summer. The writers’ and actors’ strike of 2023 has caused untold damage, delaying big blockbusters out of what was a prime period. Speaking of Deadpool and Wolverine, that was supposed to release early in May 2024, but was just one of the films that had to be pushed due to the industrial action. 

Next week doesn’t see the open of any major box office contenders, though the small arachnophobia-inducing film Sting opens, hoping to spin web to ensnare a sizeable box office total.  

Weekend 20: May 17-19 2024

May 17-19

  • Weekend 20 saw a slight increase in the box office total for the top 15 films, rising to £7,247,148. 
  • Despite the rise, it couldn’t come close to either the pre-pandemic total or the post-pandemic total. 
  • Weekend 21 sees Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga and The Garfield Movie release. 

Weekend 20 saw a slight increase after the plummetous decline of Weekend 19, rising 16% to £7,247,148. IF struggled to attract families to cinemas, opening to  £2,435,054. The second weekend of Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes almost beat it to number one, only dropping 43% from its first weekend. The total weekend average for the year so far fell to  £10,019,912.25. 

This weeekend in the pre-pandemic era achieved a total of £12,180,318.40, which means 2024’s total dropped 41%, which is about middle of the drops that have been occuring throughout the year. Of course, this is evidently due to a lack of big-budget and high profile big hitters, which has affected this year hugely. 

The top-performing film for Weekend 20 of the pre-pandemic period is Deadpool 2, which opened in 2018 to £12,974,669, way above even the total for all the top 15 films for this weekend in 2024 combined. The top-performing year for Weekend 20 was also 2018, which totalled £17,319,634.

In the post-pandemic era, Weekend 20 produced an average total of £8,762,672.67, which means that 2024’s total is 17% less. The top-performing film for this era was the first weekend of Fast X in 2023 which achieved a total of £5,895,674. 2023 was also the standout year for Weekend 20, with a total of £10,560,090. 

2024’s last two major box office contenders for May include Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga and family-orientated The Garfield Movie. Hopefully both will provide some strong box office numbers, perhaps even managing to rise above both the pre and post-pandemic.  

Weekend 19: May 10-12 2024

UK Box Office Analysis May 2024

May 10-12

  • Weekend 19 saw another decline in the box office, with a total of £6,249,772.
  • This weekend couldn’t get get above the pre-pandemic era total for the same weekend of £11,174,278.
  • The same weekend in the post-pandemic era also couldn’t be overcome, as it was  £9,196,393.50. 
  • Weekend 20 sees the family film IF hit cinemas. 

The box office for Weekend 19 saw another disappointing weekend for the box office, as it dropped 32% to £6,249,772. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes opened to £3,802,189 and it was the only film to achieve a total above £1 million at the box office. It shows that audience interest in the current crop of films in the marketplace are struggling to garner audience interest. The Fall Guy for example fell hard in its second weekend, dropping 74% from its opening weekend. The total weekend average for the year so far fell 2% to £10,165,847.21.

Weekend 19 in the pre-pandemic era achieved a total of £11,174,278, meaning 2024’s Weekend 19 total dropped 44%. The top-performing film for Weekend 19 in the pre-pandemic era was the third weekend of the 20218 film Avengers: Infinity War when it achieved  £5,706,170. The top-performing weekend overall belongs to 2019, where it brought in £12,337,294. This was due to the strong opening for Detective Pikachu and an amazing third weekend for Avengers: Endgame. The total weekend average for the year so far fell to £15,834,299.27. 

Weekend 19 in the post-pandemic era also managed to beat out 2024’s total, coming in at £9,196,393.50. This means that 2024’s total is 32% lower. The top-performing film for this weekend in this era was the second weekend of the 2022 film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse with a total of £5,690,351. 2022 was also the top-perfoming year for Weekend 19 in the post-pandemic period coming in at £10,104,669. The total weekend average for the year feel 1% to £11,402,752.66.

Weekend 20 sees the opening of the family film IF starring Ryan Reynolds.

Week 18: May 3-5, 2024

UK Box Office Analysis May 2024

May 3-5

  • May didn’t get off to the best start at the summer box office, with a total of £9,166,481.
  • This weekend can’t compete with the same weekend from the pre-pandemic average £16,283,414.80. 
  • The biggest shame is the same weekend in the post-pandemic era brought in more than double this weekend, totaling £19,543,336.
  • Weekend 19 sees Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes open in cinemas, which hopefully drives some business for cinemas. 

The box office for Weekend 18 provided a poor start to the summer with a total of £9,166,481. The top-performing film for the weekend was the opening of Universal’s The Fall Guy, which came in with a small total of £3,598,996. Unfortunately, Universal couldn’t capitalise on the meme potential by bringing both the supporting actors from the breakout hits Barbie and Oppenheimer together to turn this film into a box office phenomenon. This week, despite being a 27% increase over the previous weekend, brought the overall average weekend box office total for 2024 down from £10,454,991 to £10,383,407. 

The same weekend in the pre-pandemic era made £16,283,414.80 as first weekend in the summer season was usally coasting off the momentum provided by a Marvel Studios’ release in Week 17. 2024 unfortunately didn’t have a release from Marvel Studios in Weekend 17, or a big release in general, so there was no momentum to push it. This means that 2024’s total for this weekend is 44% lower than the prepandemic era. 

The top-performing film for Weekend 18 in the pre-pandemic era was the opening weekend for Captain America: Civil War with a total of £14,466,681. Weekend 18 was the last weekend in April instead of Weekend 17, which used to be a huge time for Marvel movies. The top-performing Weekend 18 was in 2016, which had a total of £23,250,570.

When compared to the same weekend in the post-pandemic era, which had a total of £19,543,336, 2024’s total is 53% less. In the post-pandemic era, Marvel Studios moved the opening of their tentpoles from the last weekend of April to the first weekend in May, to kick off the summer box office. They began to prop up this weekend, and it’s clear that the box office this year due to a lack of a massive release from Marvel Studios. 

The top-performing film for Weekend 18 in the post-pandemic era was the opening weekend of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness which posted a total of £19,765,718. The top-performing year for Weekend 18 was 2022 with a total of £23,825,949. While Marvel Studios has struggled more recently at the box office, during this early period of the post-pandemic era it still could cash in on its brand. With the decline in its box office power and only one Marvel Studios film planned for 2024, the box office has an empty spot left, that isn’t easily filled.   

Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes is the biggest release planned for May 10-12, but there are two other notable releases. The final of the Eurovision Song Contest will be in cinemas for one week, and there will be a Transformers: 40th Anniversary Event release too. 

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