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Benedict Cumberbatch Hamlet takes £3m at NT Live box office

Benedict Cumberbatch. Photo: Johan Persson Benedict Cumberbatch. Photo: Johan Persson
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Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance in Hamlet has been hailed as a “breakthrough” broadcast for NT Live, as new figures reveal it has taken nearly £3 million at the UK cinema box office.

Including Encore screenings, the captured performance of the play has now sold more than the Michael Fassbender feature film Macbeth – with £2.93 million in takings compared to Macbeth’s £2.82 million. It also broke the record for largest global NT Live audience to date.

NT Live producer Emma Keith told The Stage that Hamlet had “pushed the boundaries” of box office success for live theatre broadcasts.

The producer also cited the transmission of War Horse last year and The Audience in 2013 as moments when the public latched on to the idea of theatre on the big screen.

She said: “Productions like that really break records for us, and really break through. I think in part its because they’re appealing to a slightly more mainstream audience, and have people involved that are recognisable beyond just a theatregoing audience.”

NT Live started in 2009 as a way for the National Theatre to broadcast its shows to cinemas across the UK. It has now branched out into the capture of theatre at other venues, including commercial productions, and in total has broadcast nearly 50 shows.

Keith claimed the Barbican’s Hamlet, although a commercial play, would increase the popularity of subsidised theatre broadcasts in the future.

She said: “The position we’re in [at the National Theatre] when we can double our audience – as many people can see an NT Live as may see a show during its run here in the Olivier theatre – for us to be able to do that through live broadcast is really fantastic.

“As a charity and a tax-funded organisation, for us to be able to showcase that work to such a wide audience is brilliant.”

She continued: “There are shows such as Hamlet, which is a commercial production, it’s not a subsidised production. But we know the audience that comes to Hamlet will come back for future shows.”

News of Hamlet’s box office success come as the play was named the seventh most popular ticket for any entertainment or sporting event in 2015.

Ticketing website Viagogo revealed the play was more in-demand than the England versus France Six Nations rugby match, though less popular than One Direction’s latest tour.

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