UK Box Office

The fake winner: Pixels

With £2.66m including previews, Adam Sandler sci-fi comedy Pixels storms to the top of the UK box office, dethroning Fantastic Four. However, the key words here are “including previews”, since the Pixels number is, in fact, based on seven days of play, including takings the previous Saturday and Sunday as well as Wednesday and Thursday last week. All of that added up to £1.33m, essentially doubling the Pixels opening tally. Without previews, Pixels opened in fourth place, behind Inside Out, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and newcomer The Man from UNCLE. Even so, the real weekend number represented the best opening for a Sandler film since Grown Ups 2 began with £1.65m plus £421,000 previews two years ago. That film was an ensemble. For a bigger Sandler star vehicle, you’d have to go back to February 2011 and romantic comedy Just Go With It, which began with £1.63m. On that occasion, co-star Jennifer Aniston provided another strong marketable name.

The real winner: Inside Out

Ignoring previews from the Pixels total, box-office honours at the weekend belong to Inside Out. The Pixar hit declined a very slim 3% from the previous frame, for fourth-weekend takings of £1.91m, and a total so far of £27.41m. Only three 2015 releases have earned more in their fourth weekend of play: Jurassic World, Minions and, surprisingly, Disney’s Big Hero 6. Inside Out has now overtaken DreamWorks Animation’s Home to be the second-biggest animated hit of 2015, behind Minions (£43.24m so far). Minions saw a 13% rise in box office at the weekend. Presumably families who went abroad at the start of the school holiday are now returning to the UK, and catching up on cinema visits. The past week saw Inside Out overtake Ratatouille (£24.80m) to rise another place in the Pixar all-time box office chart. Next in its sights: A Bug’s Life, with £29.45m.

The spy battle: M:I v UNCLE

Two films originating as 1960s TV spy shows are battling for audiences. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation held well in its third week of play, declining 34%. After 18 days, its total stands at £14.77m. A place below it in the chart is Guy Ritchie’s The Man from UNCLE, which begins with a so-so £1.45m. Rogue Nation, of course, is the latest sequel in a star franchise with proven box-office appeal. UNCLE represented a significantly riskier proposition – reviving a spy property that has been little seen in decades, and without the benefit of an A-list star (Henry Cavill is relatively unproven outside his Superman role). Ritchie also took the decision to retain UNCLE’s original 1960s cold war setting, which makes the film more distinctive, but also potentially more niche. For comparison, the first of Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films began with £3.08m in December 2009, earned from just two days of play (the Friday that weekend was Christmas Day, when cinemas are closed. That movie had the advantage of a more famous character, as well as major star Robert Downey Jr. The sequel opened with £3.83m two years later. As for Rogue Nation, franchise predecessor Ghost Protocol stood at £15.37m at the same stage of its run, although that film benefited from a more aggressive previews strategy. The film maxed out at £18.31m, which is a realistic target for Rogue Nation. It should soon overtake the lowest-grossing film in the series, Mission: Impossible 3 (lifetime of £15.45m).

The new comedies: Trainwreck and Absolutely Anything

Few consumers of UK entertainment media in the past month could have been unaware that a) Amy Schumer is a rising US comedy star earning comparisons with Lena Dunham, and b) she has a new film called Trainwreck. Universal’s well-orchestrated publicity campaign translated to a UK opening of £932,000, which is a nice number for an actress with zero box-office track record in the UK, although unremarkable for director Judd Apatow. His last effort as director, This Is 40, kicked off with £911,000 plus £319,000 in previews, in February 2013. Discounting previews, Apatow’s best opening as director came from Knocked Upin 2007, with £1.58m.

Simon Pegg comedy Absolutely Anything, from director Terry Jones, begins with a mediocre £487,000 from 314 venues. That’s slightly down on the first frame for Pegg’s last lead role, romcom Man Up (£529,000). But it’s a big improvement on the opening salvo for the one before that, Hector and the Search for Happiness(£240,000 from 279 cinemas). (Pegg’s 2014 hitman comedy Kill Me Three Times has yet to have a UK theatrical release.) Reviews for Absolutely Anything were discouraging, with a poor 14% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. “Watch absolutely anything else,” advised the Observer’s Jonathan Romney. “One of the worst movies yet made,” cautioned Kevin Maher in the Times. “Lightly feeble,” advised a slightly more positive Robbie Collin in the Telegraph.


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