When it was confirmed that three UK cinema chains – Cineworld, Picturehouse and Curzon – were not booking The Hateful Eight, there must have been a fair few concerned faces at partners Entertainment Films and the Weinstein Company. Would the dispute – which is seemingly all about the Odeon Leicester Square being given exclusive access to the 70mm “roadshow” version of the film, preferred by director Quentin Tarantino – seriously damage the box office?
So far, the answer would appear to be no. The Hateful Eight has opened in the UK and Ireland with £2.78m from 402 cinemas, delivering a muscular site average of £6,912. Back in January 2013, Django Unchained, which boasted a starrier cast including Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx, began with an almost-identical £2.80m, but from 445 cinemas, delivering an average of £6,295. Inglourious Basterds debuted in August 2009 with £1.90m from 444 cinemas, with previews of £1.69m taking the opening tally to £3.60m.
Cineworld, Picturehouse and Curzon boast a combined 135 venues. It’s reasonable to assume that, but for the dispute, most Cineworlds and Picturehouses, and a few Curzons, would have played The Hateful Eight – perhaps 100 cinemas in total across the three chains. Looking at the site counts for both Django and Hateful – a gap of only 43 – it’s also reasonable to assume that Entertainment Films was able to quickly scramble and book its film into a number of cinemas that might otherwise not have carried it. Showtimes will almost certainly have been added at Vues and Odeons to take advantage of the situation.
It’s impossible to know how The Hateful Eight would have fared without the commercial dispute. But another comparison might also be considered helpful: in North America, the film opened a week ago with $15.7m (£11m), well down on the debut of Django Unchained ($30.7m). In other words, Hateful is trailing Django in the US, but not so far in the UK.
Star Wars feels the force again
Topping the UK box office for a fourth week in a row, Star Wars: The Force Awakens posted weekend box office just over £6m, bringing the total to a record-breaking £108.4m. On Friday, the film overtook Skyfall (£102.9m) to become the biggest hit ever at the UK box office. After four weekends of play, The Force Awakens is 31% ahead of Skyfall’s tally at the same stage of its run (£82.8m).
The Force Awakens follows a four-week spell at the top spot by The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, which followed three weeks of Spectre. That’s an unusual period of chart stability – in the previous 11 weeks, for example, seven different titles occupied the top spot. Before Mockingjay Part 2, the last film to win four straight weeks at the UK box office was Les Misérables, back in early 2013.
Daddy’s Home continues hot streak
Dropping just 22% from the previous frame, Daddy’s Home continues its impressive box-office run, with third-weekend takings of £2.27m. Cumulative box office of £11.87m is ahead of the lifetime totals of virtually every 2015 Hollywood comedy, including Spy (£10.05m), Ted 2 (£10.02m) and Pixels (£8.44m). Outside of animation, only Pitch Perfect 2, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The Lady in the Van did better last year.
Aside from the star power of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg (which propelled The Other Guys to £8.19m back in 2010), Daddy’s Home is perhaps scoring due to a zeitgeist comedy premise (dad vs step-dad) that’s highly relatable and relevant for many families.