Watershed’s Top 10 Sellers of 2018

Posted on Wed 9 Jan 2019

Farewell 2018, hello 2019. As we embark on a new year, we take a look back at the past year and share our top sellers of 2018 in film at Watershed.

The decorations have been taken down, the Christmas tree has been removed and the pine needles have been hoovered up. The 2018 festive season is over and 2019 is well underway.

Let’s take a moment to look back at some highlights here at Watershed – because it was a bit of a corker. The Pervasive Media Studio celebrated turning 10 years old and enjoyed its fair share of memorable moments in 2018 from our Layered Realities Showcase in March to a creative producers lab in Tokyo in September. Check out more of their highlights here.

More than 158,000 of you came through our doors to enjoy the finest independent and world cinema. But which film proved most popular in 2018? That honour goes to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri.

This time last year we welcomed over 10,000 people here to see Martin McDonagh’s scandalously funny drama starring Frances McDormand in her Oscar® winning performance as a foul mouthed, tough as nails mother grieving for her murdered daughter and incredulous at local law enforcement. The response from audiences was huge for a film that was by turns riotously funny and deeply sobering - a black comedy that left many of you sinking from the cinema screen and checking that your eyebrows were still intact.

But who else enjoys top billing behind Three Billboards? Here’s the full list of our 2018’s top ten best sellers:

  1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
  2. Lady Bird
  3. BlacKkKlansman
  4. Isle of Dogs
  5. Phantom Thread
  6. The Shape of Water
  7. The Wife
  8. Sorry To Bother You
  9. Free Solo
  10. Cold War

In response to the list Mark Cosgrove, Watershed Cinema Curator said:

There is something wonderfully Bristolian about 2018’s Top 10. What I mean by that is that a number of the films seem to me to typify Bristol’s independent, alternative, maverick, mischievous, creative nature - through Frances McDormand’s justice seeking mother in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri to Saoirse Ronan’s awkward teenage rebel in Lady Bird to the band of outsiders who live on The Isle of Dogs and to really understanding the creature at the centre of The Shape of Water.

Some of these films - Three Billboards, Lady Bird and The Wife also spoke to the significance of the wider #metoo moment whilst Spike Lee’s BlacKkKLansman and Boots Riley’s Sorry To Bother You were two sides of the Black Lives Matter coin. Both films also delivered stinging rebukes to Trump and America’s lurch to a white right, whilst being wildly funny, entertaining and thought provoking.

Despite Phantom Thread’s cossetted 1950s fashion set world Paul Thomas Anderson was - similar to The Wife - critiquing the creative male genius who actually needs some measured poisoning to control his toxic masculinity.

Particularly pleasing for me, in my professional capacity, was the success of Pawel Pawilowski’s Cold War, a beautifully composed film which felt like a long lost movie from 1950s Poland about the joys, creativity and freedom of music. It’s also a foreign language film, shot in the unusual academy (square image) ratio which suggests that Bristol/Watershed audiences have lost none of their love for “art-house” cinema. Finally, Free Solo was a very last minute entry into the top ten opening in late December but immediately shooting through the cinema roof. It builds on the success of previous adventure/climbing films Psycho Vertical and Mountain clearly demonstrating our audiences appetite for the wild adventures of sporting mavericks. A strong top ten making 2018 a good year at the cinema.

You can hear more of Mark’s, and our Cinema Producer Tara Judah’s, thoughts on the last year in Cinema in our December podcast.

So what lies in store for 2019? As we turn our eye toward the year ahead, we’ve got a whole lot of fantastic movies coming up for your viewing pleasure such as Oscar® favourites If Beale Street Could Talk, Vice, Green Book and Burning. You can hear more about what we’re excited about this year in the January Podcast.

But enough about us. What titles are you most looking forward to in 2019? What do you think of our top 10 sellers? We screened 318 films in 2018 so there’s bound to be some that didn’t make the final ten but nevertheless made a big impact on you. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below and maybe celebrate some of the little gems that got away…

Thank you for spending some of 2018 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. Roll on 2019. Here's to another brilliant year!