Top 10 Original Box Office Movies of 2021

2021 original films // Credit: Warner Bros Pictures, Neon, Searchlight Pictures and Universal Pictures

With the blur that was 2021 coming to an end, it is time to look at the year’s high box office performers, but this time we are going to try something different.

This year we are going to look at the 10 highest-grossing original films released in the UK during 2021 (as of 17/12/21 according to Box Office Mojo). Meaning that the movies listed here are not part of an ongoing franchise (this includes sequels, remakes, prequels, and spinoffs) or based on pre-existing material (books, comics, plays, videogames, etc.). Along with this, we will also look at each film’s Rotten Tomatoes score to see how they fared with audiences and critics.

10. Nobody (£1,256,781)

With some brutal fight sequences and a great performance from Bob Odenkirk, Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry) continued to demonstrate his talent for directing action. Audiences and critics also loved the film. It received a critical score of 84% and an audience score of 94%.

Bob Odenkirk proves to be an effective action lead // Credit: Universal Pictures

9. Malignant (£1,485,484)

A new horror film from James Wan (Saw, Insidious & The Conjuring) sounded like an amazing prospect. But despite Malignant initially performing well it soon became an audience punching bag (52% RT score). However, critics seemed to view the film more favourably (76%).

Annabelle Wallis stars in the underwhelming Malignant // Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

8. The Courier (£2,087,220)

This contemporary cold war thriller starring Benedict Cumberbatch with echoes of Hitchcock and Le Carre surprised both critics (85%) and audiences (95%). It did not make Bond-level money but it showed that spy movies can still draw people in.

Benedict Cumberbatch stars in the surprising cold war hit // Credit: Lionsgate

7. Respect (£2,215,353)

Despite the modest taking and the middle-of-the-road critical consensus (67%) audiences really enjoyed this biopic of Aretha Franklin’s career (95%).

Jennifer Hudson is riveting as Aretha Franklin // Credit: MGM

6. Last Night in Soho (£2,306,076)

A stylish horror thriller, Last Night in Soho was, while not director Edgar Wright’s highest-grossing film, the highest-grossing original horror film of 2021. And it still managed to score highly with critics (75%) and audiences (89%).

Anya Taylor-Joy with Suspiria-esque lighting // Credit: Universal Pictures

5. Spencer (£2,790,786)

Spencer follows Princess Diana during a Christmas break in Norfolk where we see her battling with her mental health problems and the power exerted over her by the royal family. Although the film divided audiences (52%) it delighted critics (83%), with Kristen Stewart’s performance receiving particular praise.

Kristen Stewart turns in an amazing performance as Princess Diana // Credit: Neon

4. The French Dispatch (£4,071,484)

Wes Anderson’s latest tale concerns several reporters and the stories they encounter while writing for the titular magazine. Even though it is Anderson’s lowest-rated film since The Darjeeling Limited it still received good reviews from viewers (75% from critics and 76% from audiences).

Wes Anderson’s style is instantly recognisable even from a single frame // Credit: Searchlight Pictures

3. Encanto (£4,201,894)

The first animated movie on this list is a beautiful look into various aspects of Colombian culture. Encanto, is about Mirabel, who has to deal with being the only member of her family without a special ability. Disney continues to showcase its artistic power with Encanto being readily embraced by all (90% from critics, 93% from audiences).

The Madrigal family // Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

2. Ron’s Gone Wrong (£4,570,319)

2021 was a good year for original animations. Following Barney and his defective B-bot Ron as they learn about friendship and the dangers of the tech industry this film was the first feature from Locksmith Animation (co-produced alongside 20th Century Animation and TSG Entertainment). And with great reviews from cinemagoers (94%) and reviewers (80%) it’s certainly a good film to start their careers with.

Friendship blooms between Ron and Barney // Credit: 20th Century Studios

1. Free Guy (£17,383,060)

The highest-grossing original film in the UK this year and the 7th highest-grossing film in the UK in 2021 (at time of writing) Free Guy focuses on the journey of a videogame NPC who slowly breaks out of his predetermined path. An entertaining film that people really took to (80% for critics, 94% for audiences) Free Guy proves that not only is Hollywood improving when it comes to making movies about games but also that original ideas still have pull in cinemas.  

The highest-grossing original movie of 2021 in the UK // Credit: 20th Century Studios

This concludes our look at the top 10 original movies at the UK box office in 2021. Overall the number of original movies in the top 10 high-grossers this year was disappointing compared to 2020. But the diverse range of genres on display at least shows cinemagoers are interested in watching a range of different stories when it comes to original productions. Here’s hoping 2022 will be better for original ideas at the movies.

Also Read: Top 5 Movies That Don’t Need a Sequel, Reboot or Remake

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Posted by
Josh Greally

Writer and filmmaker. I have a masters in directing film and television and have written film reviews for several smaller sites in the past. Films are my life, but I also enjoy writing, reading, listening to music and debating.