The runaway success of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer has helped lift this year’s UK box office 10% ahead of where it was at this point in the calendar last year, according to the latest data from Comscore.
Total box office revenue for August 2023 surpassed £104m, which is 67% higher than the same month in 2022. Year-to-date revenue is up 10% compared to the period between January and the end of August 2022, when it was tracking well behind 2022 totals.
Barbie raked in an additional £31.3m in the month of August to bring its total UK box office to £90.9m, becoming the seventh-biggest UK box office performer of all-time, above Avengers: Endgame.
Oppenheimer meanwhile grossed an additional £20.7m, taking its total to £54.4m.
Their success was thanks in part to an idea, popularised on social media ahead of the films’ shared opening weekend in July, to make an event of attending both films as a double feature. The brooding Nolan biopic and cheerfully satirical IP-driven Mattel tale were thus ironically symbiotic in driving cinemagoers to the big screen.
Whether the two films, alongside big April performer The Super Mario Bros. Movie, will be enough to continue to lift the cinema industry through the rest of the year is less certain. September has a relative dearth of big name releases, though Universal’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 and Disney’s latest Poirot flick A Haunting in Venice could attract some audiences.
Meanwhile, the ongoing writers’ and SAG-AFTRA strikes in America have effectively shut down Hollywood this summer, and may cause film delays (Warner Bros Discovery has already delayed Dune: Part Two) or uneven marketing efforts, as actors are unable to partake in any press to promote their work so long as strike action continues.