The winner: The Lego Batman Movie
Adding another £5.63m, The Lego Batman Movie continues to dominate the UK box office, and has now reached £23.08m after 19 days. Some schools were on half-term holiday last week, which boosted takings for Lego Batman as well as rival family films such as Sing, Moana and Ballerina. Sing is now at £26.55m (after adding £3.09m), and it remains to be seen whether Lego Batman will ever catch it.
The top six films remained the same this weekend, albeit with some shuffling of position. Fifty Shades Darker crossed the £20m barrier – only the sixth 18-certificate film ever to do so, after Fifty Shades of Grey, The Wolf of Wall Street, Gone Girl, Hannibal and American Beauty.
The challengers: Patriots Day and A Cure for Wellness
Two new major Hollywood releases, with a combined site count of 827, arrived with rather disappointing box-office numbers. Landing in seventh place, Peter Berg’s Patriots Day began with £749,000 from 440 cinemas (£843,00 including previews). A Cure for Wellness took 10th place, with £410,000 from 387 venues, including a handful of previews.
The Patriots Day number compares with a debut of £1.76m plus £220,000 in previews for Berg’s Deepwater Horizon last autumn. Both films star Mark Wahlberg and are based on true events, as is the case with Berg’s Lone Survivor, which kicked off with £752,000 from 392 sites.
Comparisons for A Cure for Wellness are hard to make, since many of director Gore Verbinski’s more recent films have benefited from big stars and established characters or elements (The Lone Ranger, the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy), while Rango was an animation. Dane DeHaan leading roles are not numerous, and 2012’s Chronicle (which began with a robust £2.19m including previews of £617,000) benefited from a clearly defined teen-skewing audience. The 18 certificate for A Cure for Wellness can’t have helped, but the lack of any major star, an ill-defined genre positioning and absence of familiar source material were likewise commercial negatives.
The awards movie battle
Among titles that featured prominently in the Oscars race, top commercial performer is Hidden Figures, which didn’t convert any of its Oscar nominations into wins. Theodore Melfi’s film grossed £986,000 at the weekend, a decline of just 19% from the previous frame. Next comes Lion, with £694,000 – a decline of less than 1%. At £9.26m, Lion is poised to overtake Arrival (£9.46m) to become the second highest grosser among this year’s best picture nominees, behind La La Land (£29.19m).
Moonlight expanded from 85 to 175 cinemas, adding £393,000 at the weekend, for a total of £1.26m. It is such a competitive field currently that this was only enough to land 12th place. Similarly, Fences, which declined by a slim 7% at the weekend, found itself down in 13th place despite solid takings of £350,000. Total so far is £1.16m.
Following Moonlight’s chaotic best-picture Oscar win, the film saw a big-box office spike, assisted by one-off showings in Odeon cinemas that had already been booked in anticipation of Oscars success. The film shot up to fourth place on Monday, with takings up 121% on the previous Monday. Moonlight expands to 280 cinemas this Friday.
US v UK: Oscar titles
Compared with US box office, both La La Land and Lion are performing better in the UK, when the adjustments are made for the disparity in the size of the markets. Given La La Land’s US gross of $141m, you might expect a UK total around £14m, but it’s twice that. Lion has taken $43m in the US, suggesting a UK equivalent between £4m and £5m – again, it’s twice that. Conversely, Hidden Figures (which has scored a stonking $153m in US) and Fences ($57m) are not yet delivering equivalent numbers in the UK.
Given its subject, it’s perhaps surprising that Jackie is overperforming in the UK (£3.5m) compared with what you’d expect from the US result (it’s done $14m so far). Jackie was nominated for best actress, costumes and score, but won nothing.
The dearth of commercially appealing new releases saw box office overall tumble by 34%. However, takings are 26% up on the equivalent weekend from 2016, when the underperforming Grimsby was the top new title. Box office has been up on the year-ago equivalents for three of the four weekends in February (by 29%, 13% and 26%) and down (by 12%) on the 2016 equivalent for only one session. Based on those numbers, February has been good for UK cinemas, and we can expect to see an admissions rise on 2016 when those numbers are tallied.
Bookers’ hopes are now pinned on X-Men spinoff Logan, the third stand-alone film starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, which arrives on Wednesday. User rating is currently 9.5/10 at Internet Movie Database, which augurs well. The other two wide releases this week are Charlie Day/Ice Cube comedy Fist Fight (a critically lambasted commercial underperformer in the US) and Gurinder Chadha’s Viceroy’s House – an inter-faith love story set against the backdrop of Indian partition in 1947. Alternatives include Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson in British indie Trespass Against Us, and Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women, with a cast including Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart.
Top 10 films, 24-26 February
1. The Lego Batman Movie, £2,893,337 from 610 sites. Total: £23,076,742 (three weeks)
2. Fifty Shades Darker, £1,449,678 from 525 sites. Total: £20,310,579 (three weeks)
3. Sing, £1,476,148 from 595 sites. Total: £26,553,860 (five weeks)
4. John Wick: Chapter 2, £1,146,520 from 455 sites. Total: £4,443,479 (two weeks)
5. Hidden Figures, £986,288 from 521 sites. Total: £3,348,278 (two weeks)
6. The Great Wall, £963,823 from 459 sites. Total: £3,545,145 (two weeks)
7. Patriots Day, £843,380 from 440 sites (new)
8. Lion, £694,483 from 402 sites. Total: £9,259,106 (six weeks)
9. La La Land, £447,000 from 427 sites. Total: £29,192,848 (seven weeks)
10. A Cure for Wellness, £409,540 from 387 sites (new)
Rusalka – Met Opera, £215,774 from 175 sites (event)
Wolyn, £68,175 from 138 sites
Rangoon, £58,123 from 34 sites
It’s Only the End of the World, £35,165 from 15 sites
Best (George Best: All By Himself), £25,323 from 31 sites
Sargi, £9,606 from eight sites
Within, £8,364 from 18 sites
Bitter Harvest, £7,444 from 41 sites
Yaman, £5,756 from three sites
The Fits, £1,690 from nine sites
Shut In, £537 from five sites
Sweet Dreams, £447 from two sites