Delivering the biggest UK opening number since The Inbetweeners 2 three months ago, Interstellar tops the chart with a weekend gross greater than the films in second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth places all added together. However, the £5.38m opening is down on the £5.91m debut of Inception, from July 2010. The Inception comparison is apt, since both these Christopher Nolan films are based on original ideas, rather than benefiting from audience interest in established characters. The Dark Knight Rises – a less suitable comparison – debuted here with £14.36m in July 2012.
Distributor Warners will point to the running time of Interstellar (169 minutes) putting a brake on box office: cinemas have more limited opportunities to squeeze in two evening showtimes with a film of such epic duration. On the other hand, multiplexes can simply programme on more screens to get round the problem. Inception came in at a relatively trim 148 minutes.
Interstellar opened on exactly the same date as Gravity a year ago – another Imax-friendly cerebral space adventure from a commercial auteur director. Gravity debuted with £6.24m, including £619,000 in previews, going on to achieve a robust £27.1m by year’s end, and £32.7m by the end of its run. Positive audience approval will be needed to give Interstellar an equivalent sustain, and awards attention would also help.
Rising from seventh to second place, Mr Turner continues its remarkable box-office performance, with £2.67m after 10 days. That’s already more than the lifetime gross of any previous Mike Leigh film.
Distributor eOne is following an aggressive strategy never tried before with a Mike Leigh title, expanding in week two to a hefty 252 cinemas. That of course means that the screen average on the second weekend has diluted – but at £4,026 it’s still an attractive number. More cinemas, evidently, are clamouring to take the film, and Mr Turner expands its site count to 380 from Friday.
Among venues Mr Turner expanded into, best-performing were Bluewater Showcase, Vue Plymouth, The Quad in Derby and Eastbourne Cineworld. Overall, after 10 days, Odeon has highest market share on the film, and the Olympic Barnes is the biggest-grossing site. Following more of a London/South-east skew on opening weekend, eOne reports that the business is spreading more regionally as the run progresses. Now that the film is at more than 250 venues, multiplex sites outnumber arthouses.
Vera Drake (£2.38m lifetime) is the only other Mike Leigh film to crack £2m in the UK. Secrets & Lies, Happy Go Lucky, Another Year and Topsy-Turvy all landed in the £1-2m range. With Mr Turner performing strongly on weekdays as well as at the weekend, it’s reasonable to assume that £5m is now a very safe bet for the title. Bafta nominations in the new year could extend the film’s life into January and February. Including Monday takings, Mr Turner now has an 11-day cume of £2.86m.
The rival newcomers
Thanks to the release of Interstellar, studios gave the weekend date a wide berth, at least for any film with hope of significant commercial achievement. But a few more modestly proportioned titles were given a run, notably US indie comedy Say When, starring Keira Knightley, Sam Rockwell and Chloë Grace Moretz. The film debuted in 12th place, with a mediocre £93,000 from 122 cinemas. But that number looks positively rosy compared to the gross achieved by The Skeleton Twins, starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader: £19,200 from 85 venues, and a dismal £226 average.
Despite having a cast topped by Pierce Brosnan, Disney took an ultra-cautious approach to its new spy thriller The November Man, placing it in just 12 cinemas. A gross of just under £5,000 resulted, yielding a £415 average. With a production budget reported at $15m, Disney evidently decided there was no point trying to recoup any of this cost from the UK theatrical market. Doubtless a happier fate awaits the film on DVD and via another ancillary revenue streams.
The documentary glut
Five feature-length documentaries appear in the “Other openers chart”, below, including films about singer Edwyn Collins, film-maker Hayao Miyazaki and equal marriage in California. In addition, two further documentary titles, Algorithms and One Rogue Reporter, were listed as official 7 November releases by the UK Film Distributors Association, and were both reviewed by UK newspaper critics, including in the Hlcarpenter.com. Neither appear in Rentrak’s weekend box-office report. The seven documentaries grossed a collective £10,200, including previews.
Digital screens and flexible programming have allowed documentaries to be given more of a theatrical life than was the case in former times. In the equivalent weekend 10 years ago – when a typical cinema release would occupy all the showtimes every day in a screen it occupied – there was only one documentary released in cinemas: End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones. The comparison is mentioned not out of nostalgia for such scant programming – but present-day audiences may be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed with choice, especially when there are as many documentaries reaching cinemas as there are days in the week.
Despite the arrival of Interstellar, takings are nevertheless 21% down on the equivalent weekend from last year, when Gravity arrived in the top spot, and Thor: The Dark World, Philomena and Captain Phillips offered robust support. Salvation seems immediately not at hand, since the weekend slot sandwiched in between Interstellar and the arrival of a new Hunger Games film isn’t a propitious slot to release a major blockbuster. However, the market should segment nicely with Nativity 3: Dude Where’s My Donkey? chasing family audiences in the run-up to Christmas. Upscale and older cinemagoers are well-targeted by The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as second world war codebreaker Alan Turing. Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini star in US indie thriller The Drop. Paul Haggis (Crash) offers ensemble drama Third Person.
Top 10 films 7-9 November
1. Interstellar, £5,378,220 from 574 sites (new)
2. Mr Turner, £1,014,433 from 252 sites. Total: £2,671,313
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, £738,766 from 489 sites. Total: £12,889,684
4. Gone Girl, £696,874 from 420 sites. Total: £20,634,368
5. Fury, £674,430 from 480 sites. Total: £7,056,559
6. The Book of Life, £655,010 from 522 sites. Total: £4,855,785
7. Ouija, £653,678 from 404 sites. Total: £2,587,106
8. Nightcrawler, £545,221 from 412 sites. Total: £2,169,731
9. The Maze Runner, £396,286 from 369 sites. Total: £8,345,914
10. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, £318,647 from 446 sites. Total: £2,868,463
Say When, £93,259 from 122 sites
Chaar Sahibzaade, £87,849 from 16 sites
Leviathan, £29,895 from 15 sites
The Shaukeens, £21,857 from 24 sites
The Skeleton Twins, £19,204 from 85 sites
Oru Oorla Rendu Raja, £5,619 from 7 sites
The November Man, £4,980 from 12 sites
Playtime, £4,617 from 3 sites (rerelease)
The Possibilities Are Endless, £3,575 from 10 sites
Sacro GRA, £2,429 from 4 sites
The Case Against 8, £2,161 from 1 site
Set Fire to the Stars, £1,959 from 8 sites
The Remaining, £1,640 from 15 sites
The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, £1,383 from 2 sites
My Sweet Canary, £655 from 5 sites
Varsham, £212 from 1 site