UK Box Office

Star power fails to pull in audiences … The Counselor. Photograph: Allstar/20th Century Fox/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

Star power fails to pull in audiences … The Counselor. Photograph: Allstar/20th Century Fox/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

With a dip of just 14% from the previous weekend, Gravity easily resisted the challenge of a bunch of mid-level newcomers, retaining the box-office crown with £4.84m. After 11 days, Alfonso Cuarón‘s space-set drama has grossed an impressive £14.71m, with 3D contributing 90% of the tally.

Although Gravity has a long way to go to match the year’s very biggest live-action hits such as Les Misérables, Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel, the film is a dead cert to be the top grosser for a film not based on an existing property or established characters. Currently, the top live-action non-sequel that is not based on familiar elements is Django Unchained, with £15.7m, although some might argue that Quentin Tarantino’s film inherited something from the original 1966 picture starring Franco Nero. Other strong original performers includeCaptain Phillips with £14.7m and The Impossible with £13.2m (unless you think the success of those films is in small part due to audience familiarity with the real-life Richard Phillips and Belon family).

In animation, where the brand value of the likes of Pixar and DreamWorks allows original stories to thrive more easily, top non-sequel performer is The Croods, with £26.6m.

The new arrivals

The weekend after Gravity and before the arrival of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire predictably witnessed a dearth of new blockbuster contenders. Top of the challengers is The Counselor, with £815,000. Given the potent combination of director Ridley Scott, screenwriter Cormac McCarthy and stars Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt and Penélope Cruz, the result is a disappointment for Fox. On the other hand, with a Metacritic score of 49/100, the film was always going to have to overcome some stinging critical rebukes, including the Guardian’s two-star review.

Landing a place behind it with £794,000 but on fewer screens, with a higher site average and virtually certain to overtake The Counselor in the long run is The Butler, starring Forest Whitaker as the White House attendant who served seven US presidents. The result is a significant improvement on director Lee Daniels’ previous film The Paperboy, which opened with £142,000 from 82 cinemas. The Butler is predictably behind the pace of its US performance – over there, the civil rights storyline and marketable elements, including co-star Oprah Winfrey, saw the picture debut with a robust $24.6m (£15.2m), on its way to a tally of $115m (£71.4m).

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