UK 3D revenues fell 21% year-on-year in the first half of 2011

The UK box office saw a rise of 3% year-on-year in the first six months of 2011, with box office receipts of £525m compared with £510m for the same period last year, according to figures from Rentrak EDI.

While Q1-2 2011 was down 6.2% on Q3-4 2010, that trend is generally expected due to the increased takings over the summer holiday months.

The calendar periods of January and February of this year both saw improvements on the same months last year, largely off the back of The King’s Speech, but March and April 2011 were major lulls, £18m and £39m behind the corresponding months of 2010.

The likes of Sucker Punch (£2.1m) and Battle Los Angeles (£4.6m) did not inspire UK cinemagoers, and while Johnny Depp animation Rango topped the box office in March it failed to ignite, taking £6.8m.

However, May and June roared back in 2011 after weather and the FIFA World Cup blighted the same period in 2010. This May saw a £30m improvement on last year, largely thanks to Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, while June posted a magnificent £66m boost, with five films grossing more than £10m compared with only one during the same period last year.

The first two weeks of July 2011 are a hefty £11m down on last July, when Shrek Forever After and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse were in full flow, but this month will get a huge boost when Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 hits more than 600 screens this weekend.

UK box office receipts have increased year-on-year for five consecutive years and are well on course to do so again.

However, while general box office figures are up, 3D has not fared well so far this year, according to Flash data from Rentrak EDI. These numbers are not distributor reported but collected directly from cinemas.

3D revenues for the first half of 2011 have fallen a huge 21% compared with the first half of last year and Q1-2 2011 is down 27.2% on the previous six months, when Toy Story 3 led the way on £55m.

While Avatar and Alice In Wonderland were largely responsible for last year’s Q1 and Q2 3D boom (contributing £92m of the £152.1m 3D total) the far greater number of 3D films released so far this year (more than 50 during Q1-2 2011 - including re-releases of converted films - compared with 15 during the equivalent period last year) has not yielded anywhere near commensurate results.

This year’s Q1-2 3D revenue totalled £120.1m compared with £152.1m for the first half of 2010 and £164.9m for the second half of 2010.

The biggest 3D grosser to date this year has been Pirates Of The Caribbean, but Disney’s hit has taken less than 60% of its total revenue from 3D (£19m of £32m), which compares unfavourably with Q1-2 2010’s second biggest 3D film Alice In Wonderland (let alone Avatar) which took 76% of its total receipts from 3D screenings (£32m of £42m).

3D titles such as The Green Lantern, Sanctum and Mars Needs Mums have all disappointed at the box office this year. And while the likes of Rio (£7.9m) and Kung Fu Panda 2 (£8m) have seen decent 3D numbers they are well down on even Q1-2 2010’s third biggest 3D film, Clash Of The Titans, which took £15.6m despite a poorly received 3D conversion. Tangled, the third-biggest 3D film to date this year took £11.4m from 3D receipts.

The large number of 3D films on offer at any one time is clearly reducing total 3D revenue. 19 films have grossed over £1m to date this year but none have kicked on to huge numbers. Of course, that should change this weekend with the release of the final instalment in the Harry Potter franchise.

Among a string of 3D films bidding to reverse the declining receipts for 3D in 2011 are upcoming Captain America and The Smurfs and Arthur Christmas and Hugo later in the year.