In 2009, out of the 503 total films released in the UK, 31 were thrillers, taking 4% of the year’s box office earnings with £42,578,104. The most popular thrillers were Angels and Demons, Harry Brown and Knowing. I think that one of the main reasons that thrillers took a relatively small percentage of the total box office earnings is because not that many people (in terms of all cinema goers) watch thrillers.
One of the main thriller subgenres is psychological. These types of films are often quite hard to understand, and usually feature more dialogue and storyline than action and excitement, meaning that most young people aged 12-18 (who are the most frequent cinema goers) would probably not enjoy these films.
Another reason that some people do not watch thrillers in the cinema is because they can’t. Many modern thrillers feature violence or other things (such as explicit language), which means they have an age restriction of 15 or 18. This automatically cuts a significant amount of potential viewers for these films, as it is illegal for people under the required age to see them. Also, most types of thrillers tend to appeal more to men than women, while other the other way around, although this is not as true for thrillers as for some genres (such as action/sci-fi for men, and romance/drama for women).
Looking at the 2009 figures, the most popular genre was comedy. This is because everyone, both men and women, young and old, enjoy comedy films. Also, they almost never have an age restriction, meaning literally anyone can go and see them.
Animated films are also among the most popular at the box office. This is due to similar reasons as to why comedy films are so popular, in that animated films are often fun and light-hearted and easily enjoyable. Also, knowing that a film is an animated film immediately tells you what kind of film it is, before even seeing the title, voice actors, or production company (such as Pixar), because nearly all animated films feature the same kind of storyline and happy ending. This means that people always know what kind of film they will be seeing when they go to watch an animation, as they will when seeing a comedy, whereas thrillers on the other hand are often unpredictable and hard to make out before actually seeing them.
Its very easy to tell what the films above ('Monsters Inc' - Animation, and 'You Dont Mess With The Zohan' - Comedy) will be like, but the thrillers shown below are much more mysterious, with no way to tell how the film will end.