I, Daniel Blake at #1

Watershed Top 10 Sellers of 2016

2016 is over, and 2017 is here. As we start a new year, here’s a quick run down of our top sellers, and what the year in film at Watershed looked like…

We’ve recycled the wrapping paper and started (and maybe failed at) new year's resolutions: 2016 is over, and 2017 is here. 2016 certainly had its ups and downs on a global scale, but there is much to look back at here in Bristol with a fond eye.

We developed our offer and welcome for Deaf and hard of hearing audiences, launched Cinema Rediscovered, a major festival dedicated to putting classic films back on the big screen, put on celebrations of Roald Dahl, Black Stars, and gin (not all together!), and were nominated for UK Cinema of the Year.

Of course, more than 145,000 people came through our doors to enjoy the finest independent and world cinema (and we saw a 48% increase in the number of you who were 24 and under, too). So here’s a quick run down of our top sellers, and what the year in film at Watershed looked like…

Sitting defiantly at the top spot is Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning I, Daniel Blake, his story of the friendship between an out-of-work carpenter and a young single mother forced to navigate the vagaries of the British welfare system.

The response we had to the film was just enormous. Our audiences were frequently in tears and we had to keep making more space on our noticeboard for all your comments. It felt like a film that was incredibly appropriate for 2016.

So who else enjoys the company of Ken Loach in the top 10? Here’s the full list…

  1. I, Daniel Blake
  2. My Scientology Movie
  3. High Rise
  4. Hail, Caesar!
  5. Victoria
  6. Julieta
  7. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
  8. Captain Fantastic
  9. Nocturnal Animals
  10. Room

We had a look at the top sellers with Mark Cosgrove, our Cinema Curator, who said:

“I’m really pleased that in his 80th year Ken Loach tops Watershed’s best performing films of 2016. I, Daniel Blake distilled the social commitment and the naturalistic film style which marks the best of Loach’s work. Like his early films he managed to prick the national consciousness and generate an urgent debate, and audiences responded – with tears, applause, and outrage.

“It is great that British talent is so well represented. Not only Loach and his Newcastle-set film but Louis Theroux and My Scientology Movie which was the real surprise of 2016. Originally booked as a one night only satellite Q&A with Theroux it went on to be our quickest selling film ever. And in third place a British thoroughbred with maverick director Ben Wheatley’s take on cult writer JG Ballard’s High Rise, produced by legendary British producer Jeremy Thomas.

“In the wider top ten it is great to see that Bristol audiences’ appetite for world cinema remains undiminished with a back-on-form Pedro Almodovar and his sublime Julieta, the cinematic triumph that was the single take German film Victoria, and the thoroughly entertaining and heartwarming Hunt for the Wilderpeople from New Zealand.”

What do you think of our top 10 sellers? Let us know in the comments section below, and share your film favourites for the past year too. We screened almost 350 films in 2016, so there’s bound to be some that didn’t make it in the final ten but made a huge impact on you somehow. We’d love to hear your thoughts and maybe celebrate the little gems that got away…

Looking ahead to 2017, there’s a whole plethora of Oscar® favourites coming your way, including grown up musical La La Land, the heartbreaking Manchester By The Sea and Pablo Larrain’s English language debut Jackie.

There’s more to come, including a celebration of 70 years of India’s Independence, Playable City jetting off further afield, and seasons on women on film, Japan and insects to name but a few – they’re all being scoped out and prepared so watch this space.

Thank you for spending some of 2016 with us. Whether you’ve seen a film, bought some food and drink, explored the Studio, danced at a party or anything in between, it really means a lot. Here's to another brilliant year!


So delighted that I managed to catch all but one of these, and what a selection it is too - wonderful news that such great films are doing so well. If I made my own top ten of the year, it wouldn't be that different! Thank you Watershed for sharing, and of course for being the fine upstanding Bristol institution that you are. I'll be back plenty of times in 2017.

Daniel Blake is not just my fav film of 2016 but also my fav film ever- I'm getting it for everyone on DVD

Daniel Blake is not just my fav film of 2016 but also my fav film ever- I'm getting it for everyone on DVD

Ken Loach is actually in his 81st year, having completed his 80th in June 2016.

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