UK Box Office

For the first time in 2015, there is not a single new entry in the UK box-office Top 10. Distributors are, of course, running scared of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which arrives on 17 December. Overall, the market recorded its worst weekend of the year, with just two films, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 and The Good Dinosaur grossing more than £1m, and neither exceeded £1.3m.

The top new release, Grandma, entered the chart in lowly 19th place. In fact, two films, officially still at the previews stage, did better than Grandma: Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy Sisters and family animation The Peanuts Movie. Had they been included in the official Rentrak chart, neither would have made the top five.

Hunger Games hogs top spot

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 held on to the top spot for a fourth consecutive week – the first film to do so since Les Misérables, in January 2013. (Spectre managed only three weeks in pole position, despite a cumulative gross of £92m, dwarfing the final Hunger Games’ £25.5m to date.)

Mockingjay – Part 2’s long run at the top spot says more about the dismal competition than it does about the enduring appeal of the film, which has experienced successive drops of 52%, 51% and 43%. Its latest fall is the gentlest so far, but then nothing with any commercial heft came out against it at the weekend.

Mockingjay – Part 2’s latest haul of £1.29m is the lowest weekend gross for a film at No 1 so far this year. In fact, you’d have to go back to March 2014, when The Grand Budapest Hotel found itself at the top of the chart in its fourth week, to find a title winning the weekend with a lower gross (£1.27m).

By the Sea washes away

When Universal was offered the chance to acquire and distribute By the Sea, starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt, it understandably signed on. With a production budget reported at $10m, the film offered a clear path to profitability, despite a downbeat storyline involving a married couple staying at a French seaside resort. And, even though Jolie Pitt’s track record as a director (Unbroken,In the Land of Blood and Honey) was not encouraging, and this time she also served as screenwriter, there would surely be a curiosity factor.

If audiences are curious to see the outcome, this isn’t translating into ticket sales. By the Sea opened in the UK in 23rd place, with a weedy £24,800 from 102 cinemas, delivering a woeful site average of £243. IMDb user rating is a not wholly disastrous 5.2/10, and MetaCritic score a could-be-worse 43/100. But word seems to be out that By the Sea is not a fun night out, and audiences are staying away. The chief problem seems to be that the audience for a 70s-set, arty-European relationship drama doesn’t correlate successfully with the pool of Pitt and Jolie Pitt fans.

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