The UK’s wettest June on record has given way to a super-soggy July and unless Mother Nature changes her tune, the weather is going to be one of the biggest stories coming out of the London Summer Olympics. On the bright side, UK box office is not expected to suffer greatly from the Olympic competition, while the rain could actually be a boon. Universal president of international, David Kosse, who has The Lorax and Ted on deck for the first week of the Games, says he has the sense distributors are treating this like a normal season and not expecting a massive negative impact on ticket sales. “You’re better off taking a chance being up against the Olympics than being out of the holiday period,” he tells me. But, he counters, “Weather is always a wild card here. If (the rain) breaks and it’s hot and sunny, it’s going to be a problem.”
Warner Bros is releasing The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, a week ahead of the Games, which run July 27-August 12. Warner UK chief Josh Berger tells me, “The rival for box office is going to be TV viewing given the local interest in the Olympics, but I think we have a must-see movie…. What I think will end up happening is that we will be the clear first-choice from a box office point of view and enough people will have seen the movie by the time the Olympics start, that word-of-mouth will be very strong.” Of the rain, he says, “In Britain it’s all relative. People are used to bad weather.”
Over on official Olympic turf, contingency plans are being established should the deluge continue. London 2012’s Paul Woodmansey says the Danny Boyle-directed opening ceremony has rehearsed in the rain. “We’ve planned for all weather conditions,” he says. Pointing to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend when “the weather was quite bad, but the public still had a great time,” Woodmansey adds, “In this country people don’t mind. And the athletes will be here for a while so they can acclimatize.” (That Jubilee weather did send Prince Philip to the hospital, though…) The International Olympic Committee has final say over the cancellation of any sports events, and Woodmansey says there are teams in place to directly contact ticketholders and advise them of changes. There have also been test events for every sport in every venue. As for contingency coverage should events be postponed, BBC head of marketing and communications for sports and events Louisa Fyans tells me, “There are so many sports going on and a lot of them are inside anyway so there should always be something happening.” Or, as Sports Minister Hugh Robertson told The Guardian, “The fun of the party will overcome inconvenience of the rain.”
In Olympic-related events, a high-profile concert was cancelled last night thanks to havoc in Hyde Park where the ground has essentially been destroyed by the weather. Although organizers say upcoming shows featuring Paul Simon, Madonna and Bruce Springsteen are expected to go ahead, attendees would be wise to sport their Wellies.