Total cinema ticket sales for the last year in the UK and Ireland saw admissions reach almost 80m (vs. 47.8m in 2021), an excellent 67% increase on the 2020 sector nadir. Although still someway shy of pre-pandemic highs (190m+ admits in both 2018 and 2019), the welcome rise in cinema visits, along with the improved box office, is firm evidence of a significant sector recovery.
This upward turn in footfall reaffirmed cinema’s place as the leading out-of-home entertainment activity despite screens being closed for almost 5 months of the year. With auditoriums allowed to reopen from late May onwards and vaccine programmes in full roll-out, consumer confidence grew as audience numbers continued to increase across the second half of 2021.
497 new titles debuted in cinemas and with several high-profile films moved out of 2020 to the relatively safer waters of 2021, the release calendar was packed with must-see movies. Highlights included No Time to Die, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Dune, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, A Quiet Place Part 2, West Side Story, The French Dispatch, Spencer and Another Round.
Throughout 2021 cinema operators strove to make their theatres comfortable and safe environments for audiences to enjoy the latest releases, with good ventilation, social distancing, face coverings and increased cleaning regimes. With most COVID-19 related restrictions coming to an end, coupled with an impressive slate of films, cinema looks to be in great shape for 2022.