UK Box Office

It’s a close-run thing as Disney’s lovable, family-friendly robot pips dapper Colin Firth in the retro spy spoof

hero6

Whether or not previews are included, Disney animation Big Hero 6 was the winner of the weekend, just ahead of fellow freshman Kingsman: The Secret Service. The Marvel adaptation took a healthy £3.81m over the weekend, and £4.29m including previews. The last major Disney animation was Frozen, which debuted towards the end of 2013 with £4.70m. (We don’t count either of 2014’s Tinker Bell features as a major Disney effort.)

An apt comparison for Big Hero 6 might be Wreck-It Ralph, which arrived in February 2013 with £4.53m. Wreck-It Ralph benefited from higher awareness of the arcade game source material, especially among adults. Big Hero 6, which opened in the US last November, has clocked up $218m there and $485m worldwide.

Big Hero 6 still has the whole February half-term holiday ahead of it – a period that should deliver hefty takings every day of the week.

While nobody will be much surprised by the success of the latest Disney animation, the various stakeholders in Kingsman: The Secret Service will be mighty pleased to have given the inflatable robot a run for his money. Kingsman debuted with £3.55m over the weekend, and £4.24m including Thursday previews. That’s a big jump from the opening of director Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass, which began in April 2010 with £1.83m plus generous previews of £2.05m.

Distributor 20th Century Fox and producer/director/co-writer Vaughn will now be picking over the details of what went right. First candidate is the release date, since Kingsman offered cinemagoers a fun alternative to the many awards-worthy prestige dramas currently in cinemas. Vaughn is a director who manages to be both broadly commercial and also quite distinctive meaning that Fox could position Kingsman as both accessibly mainstream and something a bit different to what audiences had seen before. There is invariably value in that combination.

Although the film found a berth at all the indie chains – Picturehouse, Curzon and Everyman all played it – it has found its biggest success at multiplex venues, with a very good regional spread across the UK. Top site is Westfield in Shepherds Bush, London (so often the top-performing cinema for a hit film), with Vue West End in second place. But Cineworld Milton Keynes, Cineworld Glasgow, Showcase Bluewater, Cineworld Sheffield, Cineworld Crawley and Odeon Manchester Trafford Centre are all among the top 10 performing venues for Kingsman, and the next 10 includes plex cinemas in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Norwich, Cheltenham, Dublin and Liverpool.

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