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Cinema box office in UK and Ireland breaks record third year in a row

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi top earning film of 2017, with £1.38bn in overall takings showing cinema retains appeal in digital age

Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
 The force remains strong for British cinema. Photograph: AP

The cinema box office in the UK and Ireland had a record-breaking year in 2017, with its highest grossing year to date.

According to figures released by the box-office tracker comScore, £1.38bn was spent on cinema tickets, 6.1% up on the previous year. It was not expected to beat 2016, which was a 53-week year (the year includes all Friday-to-Thursday play weeks where the Friday falls into that calendar year).

The record has now been broken in each of the last three years after a small drop of 2.7% in 2014, proving that audiences are still enjoying cinema visits despite the popularity of steaming sites such as Netflix.

While final 2017 admission figures are not yet available, they are expected to be slightly above the 2016 total.

Films such as Dunkirk, La La Land and Paddington 2 attracted audiences to the cinema last year, and the December release of the much-anticipated Star Wars: The Last Jedi helped pushed 2017 into the record books.

The latest instalment in the Star Wars franchise became the highest grossing film of the year, despite it only being in cinemas for three weeks, having been released on 14 December.

In the final days of the year it crept above the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast in the rankings. Both films are distributed by Disney, which also released Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, which came in fifth.

The Last Jedi is expected to break into the top five films of all time at the UK box office (pdf) by the end of its run. Fifth position is held by Titanic (£80.3m), behind Avatar (£94m), Bond films Spectre (£95.2m) and Skyfall (£103.2m), and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (£123.2m).

Lucy Jones, the executive director at comScore, said thdespite the popularity of online services, there was still a “significant appetite” for visiting cinemas.

She said: “The latest box-office figures confirm that audiences still feel that films are best enjoyed at the cinema with the biggest possible screen, the best sound, comfortable seats and the communal experience.”

Phil Clapp, the chief executive of the UK cinema association, agreed, saying: “It’s clear that the UK public still turns to cinema to get the ‘wow’ experience they can’t enjoy anywhere else.”

He added: “The growing success story of the UK cinema industry means that it now contributes half a billion pounds to the UK economy each year, employs more than 17,000 people directly and supports countless other local services.”

Top 10 films in UK and Ireland in 2017

1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney): £73.1m
2. Beauty And The Beast (Disney): £72.4m
3. Dunkirk (Warner Bros): £56.6m
4. Despicable Me 3 (Universal): £47.8m
5. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 (Disney): £41.0m
6. Paddington 2 (StudioCanal): £39.3m
7. It (Warner Bros): £32.3m
8. Thor: Ragnarok (Disney): £31.0m
9. Spider-Man: Homecoming (Sony): £30.4m
10. La La Land (Lionsgate): £30.4m

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