Emma Watson helps power London to box office record

Robert Dex
Star turn: Emma Watson in this year's Beauty and the Beast

London’s film fans have powered a record-breaking year for the cinema business by pouring through the doors in huge numbers to see stars including Emma Watson, Emma Stone and Dan Stevens.

New figures show UK box office receipts crossed the billion-pound line in record time this year — hitting the landmark in the last week of September, two weeks earlier than in 2016.

Among the films pulling in huge audiences was the Disney musical Beauty And The Beast, starring Watson and Stevens in the title roles, which made £72 million at the box office and became the highest-grossing musical in UK history.

Figures from the Film Distributors’ Association showed that about 900 films will have had a cinema release in the capital by the end of 2017 with the 10 biggest so far including Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol 2; Spider-Man: Homecoming; and Oscar winner La La Land which starred Stone alongside Ryan Gosling.

By the end of November, takings topped £1.2 billion and with Star Wars: The Last Jedi opening this week industry experts are predicting 2017 will see more money flow through cinema box offices than ever before. The biggest week for going to the cinema was the second week in February, which coincided with half-term. More than £6.4 million a day was spent on cinema tickets.

The research also found Londoners account for one in 20 of all cinema tickets sold across Europe this year, and visit the cinema on average three times a year. FDA president Lord Puttnam said: “In an intensely competitive environment, a first-rate mix of releases are cutting through the noise and successfully reaching sizeable audiences.”

UK box office receipts have exceeded £1 billion every year since 2010. Next year is expected to repeat the pattern. Potential hits in the first three months include Tomb Raider, in which Alicia Vikander takes on the role made famous by Angelina Jolie. Other releases will include The Mercy, with Colin Firth as vanishing yachtsman Donald Crowhurst.