UK Box Office

Spectre resets the blockbuster bar

The UK opening box office record set by Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban– £23.88m – has endured for 11 years, but when it finally fell it was by a massive margin. With an official debut of £41.3m, Spectre has set the bar by which future blockbusters will be measured.

-Of course, it’s more complicated than that. The reason Prisoner of Azkaban has been in the record books for so long is that it was released on a Monday, so its opening gross was a seven-day figure. What’s more, the release coincided with the May half-term holiday, making the film available every day of the week to a family audience.

Spectre repeated the trick, releasing on a Monday (26 October) during a half-term holiday and delivering a seven-day opening. Its £41.30m total includes £21.32m in previews earned on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Over the Friday-to-Sunday official weekend period, the tally falls to just shy of £20m. That’s a gigantic number, but it falls short of the £23.75m earned by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 on its opening weekend in July 2011. It’s also just below the £20.18m earned by Skyfall on its opening weekend in October 2012.

Because these movies were released on different days of the week, exact comparisons are hard to make. However, Skyfall made £37.33m in its first seven days (10% less that Spectre managed), and Deathly Hallows: Part 2 did £35.75m (13% less than Spectre). Adjusting for ticket price inflation would produce different outcomes, of course. Skyfall went on to earn just under £103m in the UK, the only film ever to crack nine figures here, and the biggest ever UK box-office hit. Spectre has already earned 40% of that figure, after only seven days, so you might imagine it would be likely to reach it. On the other hand, it would need to quintuple its debut weekend total to do so, and not many blockbuster movies manage that.

The question remains: can Spectre attract that large number of occasional cinemagoers who can tip the balance? In the case of Skyfall, the planets were spectacularly well-aligned, thanks to the royal parachute stunt at the Olympics opening ceremony, and to the fact that it was the 50th year of Bond films. Word-of-mouth will be a factor. Spectre has a 7.6/10 IMDb user rating and a 69/100 MetaCritic score. For Skyfall, those numbers are 7.8 and 81.

The arrival of Spectre produced one of the most polarised box-office top 10s we’ve ever seen, with the No 1 film grossing 269 times the film in 10th place. The previous weekend, the top film (Hotel Transylvania 2) grossed 9.4 times the 10th-placed film.

The family battle: Hotel Transylvania 2 v Pan

The glad tidings for Sony do not begin and end with Spectre. Half-term has also been great news for the studio’s family animation Hotel Transylvania 2, which may also have benefited from Halloween. Takings rose at the weekend by 6% from the previous frame. Over the 10-day holiday period (23 October to 1 November), the sequel grossed £8.90m, taking the total to a lofty £16.03m. The original Hotel Transylvania – which also played some cinemas at the weekend – stands at £8.31m. The second instalment is clearly on track to more than double that.

Rival offering Pan has so far managed £7.17m – less than half the Hotel Transylvania 2 gross, and with a heftier production price tag. However, Pan has over-performed in the UK relative to US takings. With US box office of $32m, a UK gross of £3.2m should be expected, but it has achieved more than double that figure.

Crashing back into the top 10 for half term is Inside Out, in its 15th week of release. Total so far is a stellar £38.91m.

The Shakespeare contest: Macbeth v Hamlet

Thanks to a strong midweek performance, the cinema release of Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet continues to close the gap on Michael Fassbender in Macbeth – £2.62m against £2.65m. Hamlet is already the second-biggest hit for a stage play at UK cinemas, behind NT Live’s War Horse (£2.93m).
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