Licence to sell: James Bond leads £10bn home cinema boom

James Bond

James Bond helped fuel a £10 billion boom in home entertainment sales last year as Britons enjoyed films from the comfort of their sofa during the pandemic.

No Time To Die, Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007, was the year’s top-performing video title, generating 1.1 million unit sales from digital downloads, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).

The spy blockbuster was released in cinemas last September after several delays due to the Covid-19 crisis. In December, it was made available to purchase on home entertainment platforms, including Sky Store and Amazon Prime Video.

No Time To Die was bought more times than the rest of the top five bestselling video titles combined. Peter Rabbit 2 was in second place with 351,864 sales, while Wonder Woman 1984 sold 272,803 units. Godzilla vs Kong and Zack Snyder’s Justice League were next in line with 228,257 and 223,610 sales respectively.

No Time To Die’s domination meant that it ruled both the small screen and the cinema screen in the UK last year. The film’s UK box office takings stood at £96 million, beating Spider-Man: No Way Home, which raced to more than £64 million in the final weeks of 2021.

Spider-Man did, however, beat Bond at the global box office and is on course to become one of the highest-grossing films of all time. Like Bond, the franchise is spearheaded by a Brit, with Tom Holland playing the web-slinging superhero.

The ERA said total home entertainment sales, including music and gaming, hit an all-time high of £9.7 billion last year and could break the £10 billion barrier once preliminary figures are converted into actual sales.

It is the ninth consecutive year of growth, beating 2020’s high of £9.3 billion, when the whole country was locked down for four months.

Video was the second biggest segment with £3.8 million in sales, an increase of 13.3 per cent on 2020. Subscription streamers, including Netflix, Amazon and Disney+, led the charge, with consumers spending £3.2 billion on the services, up 84.8 per cent compared with 2019. In contrast, DVD sales have plummeted 57 per cent over the past two years to £151 million.

“Crises tend to amplify existing trends and the coronavirus pandemic has clearly been a significant factor in the explosive growth of video streaming and precipitous decline of disc sales,” Kim Bayley, the ERA’s chief executive, said.

Despite this, Bayley pointed to “miracle” growth in physical music sales after 20 years of decline. This was fuelled by the well-documented resurgence of vinyl, which the ERA described as the “comeback story of the decade”. Sales of vinyl albums increased by nearly a quarter last year to £136 million.

Total music sales grew nearly 9 per cent to £1.7 billion, led by £1.3 billion in revenue from streaming services, such as Spotify. This was up 11 per cent on 2020.

Adele’s 30 topped the album charts with 600,056 unit sales, while the biggest selling single of last year was Ed Sheeran’s Bad Habits, which was purchased 1.7 million times.