2021 UK and Ireland box office surpasses 2020 total

Today, the 2021 UK and Ireland yearly box office cume (£323.8m) overtook total receipts for the whole of 2020 (£322.9m). The theatrical business has seen steady recovery from late May onwards, as cinemas were able to reopen their doors for the first time this year, following widespread closures due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Cinema operators began to reopen sites from 17 May (7 June in the Republic of Ireland), whilst adhering to specific safety measures including social distancing requirements, managing reduced capacities and increased cleaning regimes. The option to operate auditoriums at full capacity was granted first in England from 19 July, whilst some constraints remain in place across the Republic of Ireland.

As vaccination programmes reached ever larger swathes of the population and limits on movement were gradually eased, the territory started to return to some sort of normalcy with a stronger sense of consumer confidence. Activities and socialising were once again encouraged, and as consistently reflected throughout the pandemic in numerous independent sector surveys, visiting the cinema remained the leading out-of-home entertainment choice across the land.

Audiences took up the cinemagoing habit again in earnest, flocking to see a wide variety of titles: from action and adventure (Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Black Widow, Free Guy, Fast & Furious 9, The Suicide Squad); to family films (Peter Rabbit 2, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Jungle Cruise, The Paw Patrol Movie); horror (A Quiet Place Part II, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Candyman); and drama (Nomadland, Minari, Respect, The Father, Another Round, Stillwater), all crowned by the most anticipated release of the year No Time To Die.

Whilst 2020 delivered the lowest reported box office since modern records began, 2021 has kickstarted the cinemagoing recovery with some aplomb and there is still a wealth of releases yet to come before the end of the year, followed by a strong and varied slate of films for 2022 and beyond. Head over to the FDA release calendar here to see a list of upcoming UK and Ireland films and release dates.