Entertainment & Arts

Star Wars: The Force Awakens fuels UK box office record year

A still from Star Wars: The Force Awakens Image copyright Disney/Lucasfilm
Image caption Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the UK's most successful film of all time

The success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens helped fuel record UK box office takings in 2015, figures show.

The British Film Institute (BFI) revealed takings were up 17% from the previous year, at £1.24bn.

Cinema admissions also rose 9% with 171.9 million tickets sold, while money spent on film production was £1.41bn - the second-highest amount on record.

It is the first year since 2012 that both admissions and box office takings have risen.

Five films took more than £40m at the UK box office in 2015 - compared to just one, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, in 2014.

The Force Awakens, released in December, took £114m and is now the UK's most successful film of all time.

Spectre, the latest release in the James Bond franchise, was second with takings of £94.7m, with Jurassic World in third place with £64.5m.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron took £48.3m and Minions was fifth with £47.7m.

Image copyright MGM Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions
Image caption Spectre took £95m at the UK box office in 2015

The BFI also said UK independent films took an 11% market share in 2015 - the third highest on record. Eight of them took more than £5m at the box office.

The highest-grossing independent film was Tom Hardy's Legend, in which he played the Kray twins, and took £18.4m. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel came in second place, taking £16m.

The UK's film production spend figure is a decrease of 6% on 2014's record total of £1.49bn - with films made that year including The Force Awakens and Age of Ultron.

Amanda Nevill, chief executive of the BFI, said: "With spend from film production over £1.4bn, audiences flocking to cinemas and UK box office topping £1.2bn for the first time, today's numbers show a golden age of British film continuing - and underlines film's important contribution to the UK economy.

"It's significant that a wide range of fantastic British independent films won the hearts and minds of audiences in a hugely competitive year, but it's clear that the market is still tough for the makers and distributors of independent and specialised films."

Culture minister Ed Vaizey hailed the figures as "great news".

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