With kids breaking up last Friday for the two-week Easter holiday, family films dominated the UK box office, nabbing the top three places. King of the heap is Cinderella, with an encouraging debut of £3.80m, ahead of Home and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Cinderella’s opening number compares with £3.59m including £976,000 in previews for Snow White and the Huntsman three years ago, and £6.59m including previews of £2.77m for Maleficent last May. Cinderella’s tally, in fact, approaches Maleficent’s number, once the latter’s previews are stripped out: £3.82m. With Cinderella and Home occupying the top two spots, the market is demonstrating the power of female protagonists.
Also in the top five is Insurgent, starring Shailene Woodley. A troubling majority of Hollywood films feature a male character at the centre, and that’s as true for family films as it is for other genres – the first 12 Pixar features featured a male protagonist, for example. With Home delivering £2.60m at the weekend, down a slim 24% from its opening frame, and SpongeBob offering £2.26m including previews of £682,000, the big three family films contributed a collective £8.67m to the weekend box office. With a further two weeks of play before kids return to school, there’s plenty more cash on the table to be collected.
The broad comedy
When Get Hard, starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, premiered two weeks ago at SXSW, many initial reactions labelled the humour as racist and homophobic. But the controversy appears not to have hurt the box office, and distributor Warners should be satisfied with a UK debut of £1.44m. Ferrell’s last leading role was Anchorman 2, but that sequel to his best-loved film is hardly an apt comparison for Get Hard, and nor is 2012’s The Campaign, a satirical comedy about US politics co-starring Zach Galifianakis, which struggled to connect in foreign markets. Before that, Ferrell had indie Mexican western Casa de mi Padre, indie dramedy Everything Must Go and action comedy The Other Guys, co-starring Mark Wahlberg. None of these titles make for a particularly pertinent comparison, but The Other Guys debuted with £1.98m in September 2010. As for Hart, he’s coming off The Wedding Ringer, which opened in February with £990,000 including £164,000 in previews. His biggest UK hit is Ride Along, which kicked off just over a year ago with £1.42m, an almost identical number to Get Hard’s debut.
The fantasy flop
Seventh Son arrives in UK cinemas three years after filming began, and more than two years after the original scheduled release date. Produced by Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures, and originally slated for UK release via Warners, the film jumped distributor when Legendary switched its co-financing arrangement to Universal in 2014 – you might consider it a rather dubious welcoming gift to the studio.
Although Seventh Son has, in fact, fared well in some territories such as Russia and China, the US result was a pretty dire $17m for a film with a production budget reported to be $95m. In the UK, Seventh Son has opened with a weak £412,000 from 387 cinemas, delivering a £1,064 average. The film, which stars Ben Barnes, is rather classed up with garlanded actors including Jeff Bridges,Julianne Moore, Olivia Williams and Djimon Hounsou, with Alicia Vikander and Kit Harington also in the mix. Direction is by Russia’s Sergei Bodrov (who directed the Oscar-nominated Prisoner of the Mountains), and the department heads include triple-Oscar-winning production designer Dante Ferretti. A surprising amount of highly respected creative talent has been funnelled into a film that enjoys a poor 30/100 MetaCritic score and a 5.6/10 IMDb user rating.Read More…