It will come as no surprise to anyone that the UK box office was considerably lower in 2020 than in previous years. According to the latest annual report from Comscore, the UK box office managed to accumulate £323 million in total. While that is a huge amount of money, it does in fact indicate a 76% drop from 2019. The past five years have all topped £1.3 billion, showing the detrimental effect the COVID19 pandemic has had on the film industry.
Of the ten highest grossing films of 2020, nine of them were released prior to the first UK national lockdown in March. The only post-lockdown film to make the list is Christopher Nolan‘s Tenet, earning a respectable £17.4 million, resulting in third place.
The highest grossing film of the year was 1917 from director Sam Mendes. The Film Magazine described the Oscar nominated film as having “technical dazzle and no-nonsense characterisation” that resulted in one of the strongest war films in recent years. It seems audiences felt the same, with the war epic grossing twice as much as its runner up. 1917 made $44 million in the UK, a nice feather in the cap of distributor eOne, usurping the top position from Disney who’ve reigned at the top for each of the last four years.
The only Disney film to crack the top ten was Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which was released in December of 2019. In an ordinary year, this list would likely have swayed heavily in Disney’s favour. Some of the studios biggest tentpoles, such as Marvel’s Black Widow, have been pushed back to 2021 while other big hitters like Mulan and Pixar’s Soul were moved to streaming service Disney Plus.
Coming in fourth is the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence vehicle Bad Boys For Life. This film was the highest grossing English language film worldwide, making $426.5 million, so its high placement on the UK domestic list falls in line with the worldwide trend.
Oscar and BAFTA Best Picture winner Parasite placed eighth on the list with £12.1 million, making it the only foreign language film to make an appearance. Its awards success and critical buzz no doubt secured it a well deserved place on the list. Earlier in 2020 the film became the highest grossing foreign language film ever released in the UK.
Finally, Sonic The Hedgehog made £19.3 million, placing second on the list. This is a victory for video game movies which have typically performed poorly at the box office. A sequel is currently in development.
The full list of films can be seen below:
1. 1917 – £44.0 million (eOne)
2. Sonic The Hedgehog – £19.3 million (Paramount)
3. Tenet – £17.4 million (Warner Bros)
4. Bad Boys For Life – £16.2 million (Sony)
5. Dolittle – £15.9 million (Universal)
6. Little Women – £15.3 million (Sony)
7. The Gentlemen – £12.2 million (Entertainment)
8. Parasite – £12.1 million (Studiocanal)
9. Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – £11.3 million (Disney)
10. Jumanji: The Next Level – £11.0 million (Sony)