We’re now two weeks into the reopening of UK cinemas (hurrah!), and things are looking very positive. Despite the fact we are still wrestling with COVID-19, including some pesky COVID variants and a few social distancing restrictions, audiences have made it clear they are very keen to return to cinemas.

The UK Cinema Association has released the figures for the first week of re-openings, and it makes for interesting reading. It is interesting because the UK box office Top Ten for Week 1 includes a mix of movies which range from brand new titles exclusive to cinemas, alongside some recent movies that audiences could rent at home, but that hasn’t stopped them from opting for the big screen experience instead.

Here is the Top Ten in full:

  • 1) Peter Rabbit 2 – £4,605,673
  • 2) Nomadland – £874,785
  • 3) Godzilla Vs. Kong – £783,879
  • 4) Spiral: From the Book of Saw – £779,107
  • 5) The Unholy – £405,391
  • 6) Mortal Kombat – £319,313
  • 7) Those Who Wish Me Dead – £302,653
  • 8) Raya and the Last Dragon – £235,994
  • 9) Tom & Jerry – £235,805
  • 10) Ammonite – £130,324

As you can see from the list above, the number one movie is Peter Rabbit 2, which brought in £4,605,673 during its opening week in the UK. Peter Rabbit 2 performed very well in this post-lockdown reopening that we currently find ourselves in, and will no doubt continue to bring in more money over the next few weeks.

With Peter Rabbit 2 being a family film, and arguably the biggest new release at present, it’s not all that surprising it took the top spot. However, bringing in over £4 million at this point in time, is a pleasant outcome.

What’s interesting, is that the number two movie on the list is Nomadland, which took £874,785. This figure might only be a fraction of what Peter Rabbit 2 made during its opening week, but Nomadland is a movie which is currently available to stream on Disney+.

What this demonstrates is that some audiences have actively gone out to the cinema to watch Nomadland. They could have downloaded the Disney+ app, and watched the film at home (for a small subs fee), but they chose to see it on the big screen.

And this is a similar situation for Godzilla vs. Kong (3), Mortal Kombat (6), Raya and the Last Dragon (8), and Tom & Jerry (9). All of these movies are available to rent on video-on-demand platforms (Amazon, iTunes, etc), but audiences have still watched them on the big screen regardless.

In fact, if you break the Top Ten down into movies that are cinema exclusives and films that are available on video-on-demand platforms, you will see there is an even split. Five of the movies from the Top Ten can only be watched at the cinema, while five could be viewed at home if you so wish.

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures

Since cinemas have re-opened, I have ventured back to the big screen a few times, watching such movies as The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It and Cruella, and from my experiences, I can confirm that cinema-goers are happy to be back. Both of these movies proved popular in my screenings, with a fair few people in attendance in both cases.

UK cinemas are doing their best to adhere to government guidance regarding social distancing, so can only play to a certain number of seats. From a quick head count while I was waiting for the films to start, it appeared to me that both of these movies were pretty much playing to full capacity, which is very encouraging.

Cruella in particular was very popular, and was playing in one of the bigger screens at my local Vue. This meant a larger audience was in attendance.

Once again, I should point out that Cruella can be watched at home – it is available via Disney+ Premier Access. So, despite the video-on-demand option, there is an appetite to watch this in cinemas too.

Image: ©Disney

As we continue to move forward, a huge number of big releases will be arriving in cinemas in the next few weeks, and I am in no doubt that even more audiences will flock back. Things looked very troubling last year, with some UK cinemas really struggling, so it is fantastic to see cinemas starting to bounce back.

But we’re not out of the woods just yet, so if you are able to support your local cinema, and you feel comfortable returning in light of COVID-19, then now is the time to book your tickets. I believe that video-on-demand AND cinema performances working in tandem with each other is the future, but for now the cinemas could really do with your help – and from the looks of things, audiences are ready to pitch in and make the most of this wonderful experience.



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