May box office falls 29%

May box office falls 29%
Chris Hemsworth as Dementus in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (Credit: Warner Bros Discovery)

Total UK and Ireland box office in May was £72.6m, according to the latest figures from Comscore, down 29% compared with May 2023 (£102m).

Year-to-date box office revenue is now tracking 9% behind the equivalent period last year.

The top-performing film of the month was Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (£13.7m), followed by action movie The Fall Guy (£11.3m) and John Krasinski’s family-friendly IF (£10m).

George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road prequel, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, grossed just £5.1m in May — a disappointment relative to strong expectations.

Box office May 2024

Weather effects

Tom Linay, content business director at cinema sales house Digital Cinema Media (DCM), told The Media Leader that while Furiosa has “not done very well”, the rest of the slate has been “doing alright”.

“Warner Bros have just not been able to get people who were keen to see [Furiosa] in a cinema the opening week,” he added.

On the other hand, films such as The Fall Guy fared better in the UK than in the US.

“Films can be affected a lot by the weather in May,” Linay suggested. “If it’s really nice [outside], then cinema takes a dip.”

It may well be good news for cinema advertisers, then, that the UK is expected to have one of the wettest summers on record this year.

Cinema attendance was also down in May, albeit not as sharply as box office, according to Linay. Official attendance figures have not yet been released.

In search of the next big thing

Beyond the performance of any individual film, the larger issue at hand appears to be a film slate that remains uneven months after last year’s writers’ and actors’ strikes and years out from a pandemic that significantly adjusted production schedules and consumer behaviour.

May had a challenging year-on-year comparable, as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 had an exceptional month last year (£35m). But in 2024 there have thus far been fewer reliable box office wins. Just three films have hit a cumulative gross of £20m in 2024, with Dune far and away the biggest.

Box office 2024 thru May

“There’s always been flops, there’s always been success stories,” said Linay. “Over the last decade, it didn’t matter if you had a flop, because you could have a comic book film and it would make up for it.”

Not only has there not been a major comic book film yet this year (Marvel’s Deadpool & Wolverine is releasing at the end of July and DCM has already sold all its ad spots), but audiences, as well as Disney CEO Bob Iger, have expressed a level of fatigue over the Marvel and DC cinematic universes and their recently middling entrants.

Linay noted that film distributors are thus “trying to find what the next big thing is that could dominate the culture”, be it action flicks like The Fall Guy, westerns such as Kevin Costner’s upcoming Horizon: An American Saga, video-game adaptations including The Super Mario Bros Movie or whatever weirdness Yorgos Lanthimos is cooking up next.

But while Deadpool & Wolverine and Pixar sequel Inside Out 2 are poised to have big summers, cinemas will additionally have to compete with a major summer of sport between the Olympics, Euros and Wimbledon.

Media Jobs