Declining a slim 21% from its opening frame, Ridley Scott’s The Martian had no trouble holding on to the top spot at the UK box office. After 12 days, the film has taken an impressive £13.21m.
An apt comparison might be Interstellar, in which Matt Damon, curiously, also played an astronaut stranded on a distant planet. That film fell 29% on its second weekend, by which time it had grossed £12.13m. It then fell hard and fast, with consecutive drops of 50%, 39%, 47% and 65%, suggesting that it quickly burned through its audience after the initial rush of Christopher Nolan fans.
The same fate may yet befall The Martian, but it seems unlikely. One good sign is that it appears to be playing to a younger audience than might have been expected.
Distributor Fox agrees that “this seems very much in line with what we are hearing and how the film is playing – throughout the day, to young and old, teens and adults, men and women alike”. They are hoping for a strong half-term hold, despite competition from other titles.
Director Scott’s biggest hit in the UK remains Gladiator, with £31.2m. The Martian has a long way to go to match it, but it should soon push past Robin Hood(£15.6m) and then overtake Hannibal (£21.6m). Fox would presumably be delighted to reach as far as Prometheus, which managed £25m.
The runner-up: Sicario
Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario has opened with £1.38m, Thursday previews taking the tally to £1.6m. Two years ago, Villeneuve’s Prisoners began with a comparable £1.33m, plus more modest previews of £38,000, but it’s worth bearing in mind that Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, stars of the earlier film, provided more certain marketable elements than Sicario’s Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin. Add in the fact that a Spanish-language title might be seen as a marketing challenge in the UK, and distributor Lionsgate should be happy to match Prisoners’ debut.
Blunt previously showed her action mettle opposite Tom Cruise in Doug Liman’sEdge of Tomorrow, which began in May 2014 with £1.89m. She was also supporting in Rian Johnson’s Looper, which started strong in September 2102 with £2.43m. Hollywood will now be considering whether Blunt could carry a major action movie in the mould of Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy.
The family films
Pan and Hotel Transylvania 2 played widely last weekend, ahead of their official release on 16 October. In fact, Hotel Transylvania 2 also played the previous Saturday and Sunday, so has now enjoyed four full days of previews. Word is that Hotel Transylvania 2 is cleaning up, and looks set to report a huge seven-day “opening weekend” figure.
The preview strategy on these titles may be affecting Robert Zemeckis’s The Walk– at least to the degree that the film is positioned for a family audience. It has debuted with £527,000, with a week of Imax and large-format previews bringing the total to £795,000. On the one hand, the 17-minute sequence, featuring the walk back and forth between the roofs of the World Trade Center’s twin towers offers a spectacular sensation audiences haven’t experienced in the cinema. On the other, a film about a French tightrope walker starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt isn’t an automatic sell. Performance-capture king Zemeckis’s last significant hit in live-action was Cast Away in 2001.
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