I have started to study the UK box office figures and over the next few weeks I’m going to share some of what I’ve found in the data. First up, I took a look at the number of sites films are released in. All of today’s data looks at UK cinema releases between January 2008 and August 2014, inclusive. In summary…
- The UK site with the most screens is the Cineworld Valley Centertainment in Sheffield with 20
- Universal released the largest number of films in UK cinemas, 2008-14
- Warner Bros. distributed 45% of the top 20 films with the widest cinema release
- ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2’ has widest cinema release out of all films which didn’t reach #1 at the UK box office
- ‘Frozen’ was screened in 81% of UK cinemas
- There were 698 films released in the UK in 2013
What is a cinema site?
A ‘site’ is an individual cinema premises, and a single site may contain many screens (20, in the case of the Cineworld Valley Centertainment in Sheffield). In 2013 there were 756 sites in the UK, 295 of which (39%) were multiplex. Although there are a large number of films released in the UK (698 in 2013), it’s only major Hollywood blockbusters that can secure a wide cinema release. It costs money to release and promote a film and so the wider the release, the deeper the distributor’s pockets need to be.
Which films had the widest UK cinema release?
The table of UK films with the widest cinema release is dominated by Warner Bros, which has nine out of the top 20 films.
UK cinema releases, by largest number of sites (4th Jan 2008 to 17th August 2014 inclusive)
|Film||Distributor||Release date||Sites||% of sites|
1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
|2. Les Miserables||Universal||30/11/2012||599||78%|
|3. The Dark Knight Rises||Warner Bros||08/06/2012||594||77%|
|4. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug||Warner Bros||27/09/2013||594||79%|
|5. Skyfall||Sony Pictures||14/09/2012||593||77%|
|6. How to Train Your Dragon 2||20th Century Fox||04/04/2014||588||78%*|
|7. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince||Warner Bros||10/07/2009||586||81%|
|8. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part 2||Warner Bros||10/06/2011||582||78%|
|10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1||Warner Bros||05/11/2010||581||81%|
|11. Man Of Steel||Warner Bros||19/04/2013||575||76%|
|12. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes||20th Century Fox||25/04/2014||574||76%*|
|13. Interstellar||Warner Bros||15/08/2014||574||76%*|
|14. Monsters University||Disney||17/05/2013||573||76%|
|15. Gravity||Warner Bros||23/08/2013||571||76%|
|17. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides||Disney||06/05/2011||569||76%|
|18. Toy Story 3D||Disney||25/09/2009||569||79%|
|19. Life of Pi||20th Century Fox||09/11/2012||566||74%|
|20. Gone Girl||20th Century Fox||11/07/2014||563||74%*|
|21. Guardians of the Galaxy||Disney||09/05/2014||561||74%*|
|22. Despicable Me 2||Universal||03/05/2013||560||74%|
|23. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2||eOne Films||05/10/2012||559||73%|
|24. Rio 2||20th Century Fox||17/01/2014||558||74%*|
|25. Iron Man 3||Disney||15/03/2013||558||74%|
The “% of sites” column shows the percentage of sites in the UK which screened that film. The number of UK sites fluctuates slightly year-by-year, from 727 in 2007 to 756 in 2013. *The number of cinemas sites in 2014 has not been released so for those I used the 2013 figure.
The widest cinema release for each distributor
Tracking distributors over a long period of time is hard as the companies involved are not consistent. Over the six and a half years I’m looking at in this article, distributors have formed, closed, merged, re-named and partnered with other companies on a film-by-film basis. For today’s research I have used the name the company was using at the time each film was released.
Widest cinema release for each UK distributor (4th Jan 2008 to 17th August 2014 inclusive)
|Warner Bros||The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey||02/11/2012||601|
|20th Century Fox||How to Train Your Dragon 2||04/04/2014||588|
|eOne Films||The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2||05/10/2012||559|
|Lionsgate||The Hunger Games: Catching Fire||06/09/2013||557|
|Paramount||Star Trek: Into Darkness||29/03/2013||554|
|Picturehouse||Monty Python Live (Mostly) - O2 London 2014||25/04/2014||514|
|Vertigo||Top Cat - The Movie||27/04/2012||446|
|BBC Worldwide||Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor||06/09/2013||440|
|Icon||Edge Of Darkness||15/01/2010||423|
|CinemaLive||Andre Rieu’s 2014 Maastricht Concert||25/04/2014||395|
|Arts Alliance||One Direction: Where We Are - The Concert Film||18/07/2014||390|
|Worldwide||Three and Out||25/04/2008||380|
|Koch Media||Red Dawn||01/02/2013||341|
Which distributors only open big?
Universal has released the largest number of films, but it was Disney that had the highest average number of sites (349) for their films (out of UK distributors who had released at least five films).
UK distributors, by average number of sites (4th Jan 2008 to 17th August 2014 inclusive)
|#||Distributor||Films released||Average sites|
|2||20th Century Fox||175||336|
The widest runners-up
Typically, a new Hollywood blockbuster will expect to secure the top spot at the box office in its opening weekend. However, there are only 52 top spots available each year, so I thought it would be fun to look at which films had the widest cinema release but didn’t make it to the top of the UK box office. UK cinema releases which never reached #1 at the UK box office, by largest number of sites (4th Jan 2008 to 17th August 2014 inclusive)
|1||How to Train Your Dragon 2||20th Century Fox||04/04/2014||588|
|2||Life of Pi||20th Century Fox||09/11/2012||566|
|3||Philomena||20th Century Fox||16/08/2013||553|
|4||The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists||Sony Pictures||24/02/2012||551|
|5||The World's End||Universal||24/05/2013||548|
|6||Muppets Most Wanted||Disney||10/01/2014||547|
|7||The Great Gatsby||Warner Bros||05/04/2013||545|
|9||Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader||20th Century Fox||03/12/2010||542|
|10||The Book of Life||20th Century Fox||01/08/2014||540|
The data for today’s article was collected from cinemas by Rentrak and provided to the public via the BFI. Many people aren’t aware of how much data is available publicly via the BFI website. For example, you can either buy the data I used today from Rentrak directly (for commercial rates) or use the fragments of data the BFI have permission to share publicly for free, as I did. I combined 338 individual weekend box office reports to provide the basis of today’s research, containing all 3800 films released over my chosen time period. This was quite a task, so it’s entirely possible the odd error has slipped in. If you spot something awry, please let me know and I’ll fix it.