UK Box Office

American Sniper’s adjective no obstacle as it outguns UK competition again.

AMERICAN-SNIPER

It’s official: American Sniper, which has already taken a stunning $200m (£131.5m) in US cinemas, is also a significant box-office success story in the UK. Holding steady with no decline whatsoever from the previous weekend session, Clint Eastwood’s Iraq war film knocks Taken 3 from the top of the chart. In 10 days, the title has grossed a robust £6.62m. The last title to reach the summit having debuted lower down the chart is The Grand Budapest Hotel, which achieved that feat last March.

American Sniper has already overtaken the lifetime totals of Eastwood-directed hits such as Million Dollar Baby (£5.43m) and Unforgiven (£5.77m), although these comparisons are not inflation-adjusted. Sniper should soon overtake Eastwood’s top-grossing film Gran Torino (£8.33m).

American Sniper saw its venue count increase from 401 for its opening frame to 457. The site average edged back from £6,172 to £5,557.

The battle of the newbies

Three new films opened at the weekend on at least 300 screens each, all landing in the middle of the chart table (see Top 10, below). Best of the bunch, box-office-wise, is Ex Machina, the directorial debut of The Beach author and 28 Days Later screenwriter Alex Garland. The film kicked off with a decent £904,000 (plus previews of £190,000) from 442 sites, and a £2,046 average (or £2,475 if previews are included). The title found a berth at multiplexes as well as indie chains, offering a smart genre alternative to Oscar fare.

Comparisons are tricky to make. However, Spike Jonze’s Her, which shares an artificial-intelligence premise with Ex Machina, began last February with £449,000 from 200 cinemas.

Landing in seventh place is Mortdecai, the caper comedy starring Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor and Paul Bettany. The film grossed £485,000 from 350 venues, yielding a £1,385 average. Depp’s last lead role was in Transcendence, which debuted with £587,000 (plus £595,000 in previews) last April. Expensive flop The Lone Ranger kicked off with £1.34m in August 2013. Mortdecai enjoys a weak 5.3/10 user rating at IMDb and a dismal 27/100 score at Metacritic. Depp’s quirky taste in material seems increasingly to be alienating the affection of audiences.

One place below Mortdecai, The Gambler, starring Mark Wahlberg, picked up £382,000 from 345 screens, for a £1,106 average. So far, the film has been liked a little more than Mortdecai by audiences (6.2/10 at IMDb) and also by critics (56/100). The Gambler is a remake of the 1974 James Toback-scripted film, which starred James Caan, and both are inspired by the Dostoevsky novella. Populated by a number of violent criminals but not exactly a propulsive thriller, and saddled with a literature-professor protagonist suffering from existential ennui, The Gambler suffers from an uncertain genre positioning, as well as rather unlikely casting in the lead role.

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