While there’s much suspicion about the validity of Avatar’s box office performance due to inflated 3D ticket prices, the UK Film Council’s 2010 Statistical Yearbook paints a different picture. As reported by The Guardian,
last year was the best ever in terms of box office takings and the second best year since 1971 in terms of admissions, fuelled by the continuing growth of 3D and the through-the-roof success of Avatar, as well as the enduring, recession-resistant appeal of the big screen. …
In terms of box office, it was a record year with takings topping £944m [about $1,457,000,000]. Cinema admissions also shot up from last year’s healthy 164 million to 174 million, not quite beating 2002 (176 million), but still up 6% and the second highest number since 1971.
As to the impact of 3D,
The 3D revolution arrived in earnest, with 14 3D films accounting for 16% of UK and Ireland box office revenues, up from 0.4%. There are still sceptics but [David Steele, the council’s head of research and statistics] said: “It does not appear to be a flash in the pan.”