UK box office suffers worst week in years as ‘The Last Jedi’ looms

UK box office suffers worst week in years as ‘The Last Jedi’ looms

Snowy weather and the upcoming release of the new Star Wars film created a perfect storm for the UK top 10, but things were rosier for Jumanji, Paddington 2 and The Disaster Artist

The market force: The Last Jedi

A perfect storm of factors combined to depress UK box office to its worst weekend in recent years. Most significantly, the arrival of Star Wars: The Last Jedi this Thursday (14 December) means that distributors gave the 8 December date a wide berth, not wanting to release a major film and then have it knocked off screens six days later. But the snowy weather at the weekend across much of the UK cannot have helped, with families preferring sledging activities to daytime cinema outings, and transport disrupted. Finally, a couple of more commercially promising titles that were available to audiences – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Fox animation Ferdinand – were still at the preview stage, and so the box office these two films generated has not been included in the weekend chart by data gatherer comScore. These takings will be declared after the films’ official release.

The official winner: Paddington 2

Paddington 2 topped the box office again in its fifth week of play, with £1.69m pushing its tally to a sturdy £29.3m. The original Paddington film had taken just under £24m at the same stage of its run. Distributor StudioCanal will be concerned about the film’s performance over the next week, with The Last Jedi sucking up screens and audience attention, but will be hoping the Peruvian bear will bounce back when schools break up for Christmas. The original Paddington film grossed £37.9m in total.

The invisible winner: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Omitted from the official box office chart, Sony’s franchise reboot Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle in fact was the highest-grossing title at the weekend, with box office in the region of £2.1m. That’s a nice sum to be added in to Jumanji’s opening tally in the future. The film, which stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan, opens on Wednesday 20 December, and so will eventually declare an opening number based on seven days of takings (9, 10, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 December).

It’s relatively unusual for a film to enjoy a weekend preview nearly two weeks before release, but with The Last Jedi in cinemas this coming session, Sony had to grab the chance to preview its film while screens were available.

The new contenders: The Disaster Artist and Stronger

While strong fresh product was thin on the ground, a couple of promising titles were thrown at cinemas, with mixed results. James Franco’s The Disaster Artist – recounting the making of famously misguided US indie film The Room – expanded from its successful London platform to a full UK release, grossing a soft £332,000 from 348 cinemas. Including takings last Wednesday and Thursday, and the previous week’s London-only release, the film now stands at a so-so £677,000.

Producer-star Jake Gyllenhaal will be disappointed with the UK launch of his film Stronger, which he has been passionately supporting. Telling the tale of Jeff Bauman, whose lower legs were blown off in the 2013 Boston marathon bombing, Stronger has debuted with just £79,000 from 147 cinemas, and £102,000 including previews. Lionsgate faces the challenge that UK audiences are not so familiar with Bauman’s story. Stronger was also disappointing in the US, where it has grossed $4.2m so far.

Performing even worse is Universal’s home invasion thriller Better Watch Out, which begins with a weak £44,000 from 154 venues.

The market

Thanks to the paucity of officially released new titles, overall the market was down 44% on the previous session and also 36% down on the equivalent weekend from 2016, when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Moana retained their hold at the top of the chart. The weekend was not only the worst grossing of 2017, but the worst since mid-October 2013, when the top new release was flop Wikileaks drama The Fifth Estate. Cinema bookers now have enormous hopes pinned on the performance of The Last Jedi, when it arrives on Thursday. Plexes will be playing the film virtually round the clock in a bid to make up for weak box office in the first half of this month. Ferdinand is also in the mix, competing with Paddington 2 for the family audience.

Top 10 films, 3 to 5 December

1. Paddington 2, £1,690,027 from 661 sites. Total: £29,332,318 (five weeks)
2. Daddy’s Home 2, £1,135,646 from 558 sites. Total: £9,742,929 (three weeks)
3. Wonder, £742,687 from 572 sites. Total: £2,586,699 (two weeks)
4. Justice League, £552,228 from 484 sites. Total: £16,683,722 (four weeks)
5. Murder on the Orient Express, £412,400 from 478 sites. Total: £23,011,404 (six weeks)
6. The Disaster Artist, £331,685 from 348 sites. Total: £677,471 (two weeks)
7. Thor: Ragnarok, £242,176 from 347 sites. Total: £30,678,863 (seven weeks)
8. A Bad Moms Christmas, £168,037 from 348 sites. Total: £7,847,589 (six weeks)
9. The Nutcracker – Royal Opera House, £137,862 from 112 sites. Total: £1,086,577 (two weeks)
10. Stronger, £102,379 from 147 sites (new)

Other openers

Human Flow, £94,020 (including £79,131 previews) from 17 sites
The Dinner, £85,252 from 52 sites
Blade of the Immortal, £54,802 from 111 sites
Better Watch Out, £44,305 from 154 sites
Menashe, £41,037 from 26 sites
Brigsby Bear, £36,778 from 60 sites
The Muppet Christmas Carol, £36,287 from 29 sites (reissue)
Sat Shri Akaal England, £29,065 from 14 sites
Fukrey Returns, £27,730 from 22 sites
Najlepszy, £17,604 from 50 sites
A Matter of Life and Death, £10,594 from seven sites (reissue)
Ayla, £7,138 from three sites
Aile Arasinda, £6,403 from two sites
Tarapaty, £6,139 from 62 sites
Song of Granite, £3,861 from eight sites (Ireland)
Richie, £3,161 from four sites
Forbidden, £1,256 from 10 sites
Les Hommes du Feu, £376 from one site

• Thanks to comScore. All figures relate to takings in UK and Ireland cinemas.

Source: The Guardian

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