The Most-Attended Films in the History of British Cinema are...

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Ernest Rister, Nov 29, 2004.

  1. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    From Sky News

    "Move over Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter - Gone With The Wind is the most popular film ever with UK cinema-goers.
    More people in Britain have seen the Civil War Epic than any other movie, according to the British Film Institute. It has been watched by a staggering 35 million film lovers in the UK since its release more than 60 years ago.

    Starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, it easily outstripped The Sound of Music, which has been seen by 30 million viewers since its release in 1965.

    Disney classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs came third in the list. It has been seen by 28 million people since it was first shown in 1938.

    [snip -- click on link for full article]

    The BFI's Amanda Nevill said: "The list highlights the diversity of the British palate when it comes to choice of film favourites.

    "And these are the nation's favourites - selected not by vote, or by critics, but by the number of actual visits by everyone living in this country over the past 100 years."

    The Ultimate Film top 20 (UK release dates):

    1. Gone with the Wind (1940) - 35m admissions
    2. The Sound of Music (1965) - 30m
    3. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938) - 28m
    4. Star Wars (1978) - 20.76m
    5. Spring in Park Lane (1948) - 20.5m
    6. The Best Years of Our Lives (1947) - 20.4m
    7. The Jungle Book (1968) - 19.8m
    8. Titanic (1998) - 18.9m
    9. The Wicked Lady (1946) - 18.4m
    10. The Seventh Veil (1945) - 17.9m
    11. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) - 17.56m
    12. Grease (1978) - 17.2m
    13. South Pacific (1958) - 16.5m
    14. Jaws (1976) - 16.2m
    15. Jurassic Park (1993) - 16.1m
    16. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) - 15.98m
    17. The Courtneys of Curzon Street (1947) - 15.9m
    18. Thunderball (1966) - 15.6m
    19. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003) - 15.22m
    20. The Bells of St Mary's (1946) - 15.2m
     
  2. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    Just by the by...

    Spring in Park Lane?

    The Courtneys of Curzon Street?

    Are these worth a look?

    Lastly, on a side note, some of these films have had multiple re-releases. And some of these films have been released in modern times when the population is many times larger than it was in, say, 1938, 1948, or even 1968, plus there are more movie screens today than in the past (at least in America, this is true).

    Like any attempt at trying to determine the "favorite" films of all time, the list starts to fall apart because of comparitive statistics.

    This list merely indicates what are the most attended films in British cinema history. I don't think it is fair to attatch any further significance to it (such as "favorite") than that.
     
  3. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    Spring in Park Lane is worth a look...but, you won't find it anywhere.

    It's a VEDDY British romantic comedy. Full of witty banter (before we saw a lot of that) and breaking the fourth wall (before you saw a lot of that).
     
  4. Kim D

    Kim D Stunt Coordinator

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    I watched that show(s). Hosted by John Cleese over two nights.

    Here's a link to the entire list:
    http://www.bfi.org.uk/features/ultim...hart/index.php

    Spring in Park Lane stars Anna Neagle and Michael Wilding. A very successful pairing as several of their films were in the top 100. They also star in Courtneys of Curzon Street. I'm definitely interested on seeing at least one of their movies.

    I love witty banter.

    If I knew what the first, second and third walls were, would I be able to figure out what the fourth wall is?

    - kim
     
  5. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    I watched bits of this 6 hour show at the weekend. I knew Gone With the Wind would be number one, a friend of mine thought Titanic, what I didn't expect was obscure British b/w films doing so well, I've never ever heard of Spring in Park Lane, was it really more popular than Titanic here in dear ol'Blighty, I find that hard to believe.

    Another thing, ET the Extraterrestrial was released just a few years after Star Wars and quickly became the biggest grossing film of all time, even adjusted for inflation shouldn't it be a lot higher up? I mean where the friggin' hell is it? [​IMG]

    Best Years of our Lives? Courtneys of Curzon...no sorry the list was compiled by the old fogey film elite I cannot take this list seriously. I'll stick to ye olde unadjusted grosses thank you very much.[​IMG]
     
  6. Kim D

    Kim D Stunt Coordinator

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    Steve,

    ET (1983) was 31.

    Star Wars (1978) was 4.
    Star Wars I The Phantom Menace (1999) was 28.
    Star Wars II Attack of the Clones (2002) was 65.
    Empire Strikes Back (1980) was 67.
    Return of the Jedi (1983) was 87.

    So if you're asking why ET (1983) didn't do better than the Star Wars released a couple years earlier (that would have to be Empire Strikes Back in 1980 at 67), it did do better. And even better than Return of the Jedi released in the same year.

    (That's if I am reading the site correctly.)

    Cheers,
    - kim
     
  7. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    Thanks Kim, it still seems highly unlikely to me that "Carry on Nurse" and "I live in Grosvenor Square" was far more popular than "Return of the Jedi", "Close Encounters" and "Superman the Movie" at UK cinemas.
     
  8. Kim D

    Kim D Stunt Coordinator

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    Steve,

    You are most welcome.

    Take a look at the "By Decade" view. There are 20/100 of the films released in the 1940s. And 5 of those movies are in the top 10. It makes sense that many people needed the escape of the cinema just after WWII. The list is based on "butt in seats".

    The 1990s has 11 in the top 100 with only 1 (Titanic) in the top 10.

    The 2000s (and it's only 2004) has 15/100. Looks like people are going back to the cinema. (Not me. I love my home theater.)

    - kim
     
  9. Claire Panke

    Claire Panke Second Unit

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    Kim, about the 4th wall...it's a metaphor for the movie screen itself (movie convention)...the first three being the sides and back of a filmed set (not always literally, of course). It refers to a film calling attention to the fact that it's a movie, a construct, such as having a character speak directly to an audience...you know, "us", sitting behind the er..."fourth wall".

    Think 24 Hour Party People, Alfie etc.
     
  10. Kim D

    Kim D Stunt Coordinator

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    Claire

    Thank you!

    I've been watching Malcolm in the Middle. Since I've been in London (away from my HD Tivo) I've been watching whatever is on the tube and that seems to be either Malcolm in the Middle or The Simpsons. I like when Malcolm talks to the screen. Can't believe I've totally missed that show but that's another thread.

    - kim
     
  11. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    If the population of Britan was the same year to year to year, and if the number of theater screens was the same year to year to year, this list might be useful.
     
  12. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    But isn't the list talking about the number of people who viewed the films? Regardless of population, ticket prices, or any reasons why those films were seen by more and others weren't, the actual numbers don't lie.....if they say GWTW was seen by X amount of people and, say, Star Wars was seen by Y......what changes X and Y? The numbers are the same regardless of the circumstances....from purely a statistical standpoint, I think it is a fair list.
     
  13. Jonathan White

    Jonathan White Stunt Coordinator

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    Off course the population has grew, but so have other distractions, in the 30's 40's 50s's not many people had TV's. The only way to see a film was to go to the pictures. I think this list is fairer than box office which I think is a ridiculous way to gauge how popular one film is compared to another.
     
  14. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Exactly. We've had this debate before, usually when someone attacks the adjusted gross (which is a pretty solid attempt to also capture "butts in seats" but which also takes into consideration "perceived value" of a ticket, ie you could give away cars or sell them for $10m and clearly in such a case the "butts in cars" would not indicate which as truly the most popular necessarily.


    Anyway, the counter is always "but there are more people now", and yet that is countered by "more people went to the cinema in the 30's and 40's (in the US at least, and especially post-WW2) than at any other time. This is not in terms of PCTs, but in actual attendence numbers. This ties in both the "no TV" thing and the novelty of films still. Cinema was far more critical to national entertainment than it is today.

    But then in modern times we have better promotional machines, or at least tools since the hype machines were firmly in place from day one of the cinema. We have front loading, etc.


    But going by unadjusted gross gives us silly arguments like "Bread is more popular now than ever because bread sales in dollars was at an all-time high this year". What about cigarette prices, does more money spent now than in 1932 "unadjusted" on cig sales really mean they are more popular now? Do people like water more now than in 1700 since they spent more in buying it this year?


    Finally, all-time popularity lists shouldn't reflect just what we like now but what people liked in previous eras. They also indicate that the phenomenon of Star Wars or Titanic is not new, though many people like to believe it is. I think this is why such lists get a negative reaction partially.

    There is a disconnect between how films are viewed today and how they were viewed 50+ years ago.



    Anyway, its very interesting to see very British phenom films intermixed with standard US/global hits. After all, we know that not every film plays in other countries. In fact, I find it amazing that so many films do play well from culture to culture. What is dramatic tension for one culture is often a non-issue for another, and comedy...don't get me started on how that plays differently to different audiences.
     
  15. rich_d

    rich_d Cinematographer

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    No doubt that Thunderball was a popular film but it is hard to believe that it outdid Goldfinger in the U.K.
     
  16. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I don’t know the reason Rich (as I too think Goldfinger is superior), but I’d hazard a guess that a plot that centers on US gold in Fort Knox, might not draw quite the interest in the UK as in the States.

    Thunderball has the UK, US and NATO.
     

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