The Hitman’s Bodyguard knocks Dunkirk off the top of the UK box office

The winner: The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Knocking Dunkirk off the top spot of the official comScore UK box office chart, The Hitman’s Bodyguard opens with £1.98m from 467 cinemas, including preview takings of £367,000. While 2017 has been light on action comedy hits for adult audiences, the Ryan Reynolds/Samuel L Jackson team-up, rated 15 for language and bloody violence, filled a gap in the market.

Taking the shine off the success, however, is the fact that only the film’s Thursday previews propelled the film to the top spot. For the Friday-to-Sunday period, Dunkirk actually beat it. And even adding the previews in, £1.98m is a weak total for a No 1 film. Only twice so far this year has a film topped the UK chart with a smaller box office number.

The real winner: Dunkirk

Only those Hitman’s Bodyguard previews prevented Dunkirk from achieving a fifth straight week at the top spot. The Christopher Nolan film took £1.94m at the weekend, pushing the 31-day total to £49.1m. That’s ahead of Christopher Nolan’s former second-biggest UK hit, The Dark Knight (£48.9m). Dunkirk has every chance of catching the director’s top film, The Dark Knight Rises (£56.3m). These comparisons are not adjusted for inflation.

The flop: The Dark Tower

At the start of the decade, Universal Pictures was developing an ambitious Ron Howard-directed adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark Tower book series, which would see three feature films alternate with two TV series. Then in July 2011, the studio pulled the plug over budgetary concerns. In the event, the project was reconceived as a Sony-financed single film – albeit as the first in a hoped-for franchise – with Denmark’s Nikolaj Arcel directing.

Going by the US box office for The Dark Tower ($42m after three weeks), Universal has had a lucky escape – although who knows if Howard could have achieved a better creative outcome. In the UK, the film lands in fifth place with a poor £911,000 from 530 cinemas, and a site average of £1,718. Look for a relatively speedy exit for the critically mauled actioner.

Admissions update

Anyone following current box office trends might imagine the cinema industry to be in crisis. But while the US is clearly having a wretched summer, the picture is more complex globally. UK admissions figures are now in for July, and they show a very healthy 17.80m tickets sold, which is 7.3% up on July 2016, and the best July total since 2011, which saw the release of the final Harry Potter movie. For the first seven months of the year, admissions are 6.6% up on the same period in 2016, buoyed by successes including Beauty and the Beast and Dunkirk. August, which was strong in 2016, looks set to be a calamitously different story this time, but cinemas are having a good year in the UK overall.

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