UK Box Office

The winner: London Has Fallen
Critics may have queued up to aim punches at the film, but London Has Fallen shrugged off the blows, with a robust UK opening of £3.23m from 513 cinemas, including £511,000 in previews. That compares with £2.25m, including £652,000 in previews, for predecessor Olympus Has Fallen, just under three years ago. Gerard Butler returns as presidential bodyguard Mike Banner, this time saving his POTUS buddy from an ingenious set of terrorist attacks that wipe out five world leaders attending the funeral of the British prime minister.

Lionsgate’s announcement makes a cheeky sleight of hand by comparing the new film’s previews-inclusive total (ie £3.2m) with the first film’s weekend number minus previews (£1.6m), thus making the claim that London Has Fallen “takes home more than double its predecessor”. While that’s not really the case, London is a healthy 44% ahead of Olympus, if the previews-inclusive totals are compared, or 70% ahead if the actual weekend grosses are considered. London Has Fallen’s MetaCritic score of 28/100 is notably lower than IMDb users’ rating of 6.5/10, so it’s clear that critical and popular taste are adrift on this film. Rotten Tomatoes tells a similar story, with critics rating it 26% fresh, and 63% of users liking it.

The indie winner: Hail, Caesar!
By far the top attraction in indie cinemas nationwide, the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! has opened with a healthy £1.52m, including modest previews of just under £80,000. That’s well up on the Coens’ predecessor, Inside Llewyn Davis, which began in January 2014 with £758,000 including previews of £45,000. It is, however, down on the debuts of True Grit (£1.82m) and Burn After Reading (£2.05m). Their best UK lifetime total so far comes courtesy of True Grit (£8.46m).

Hail, Caesar! enjoyed particular penetration of the boutique indie chains, playing at every Picturehouse, Everyman and Curzon cinema, and was also present in virtually all of the other top indie venues. The sector was crying out for a commercially appealing title now that awards season is sputtering to a close.

The flops: The Other Side of the Door, The Choice and Truth
Opening at a collective 650 cinemas, three studio releases failed to entice many cinema-goers. Opening widest of the trio is Fox’s The Other Side of the Door, a supernatural horror about a child ghost wreaking havoc on his surviving family members. The unremarkable genre film began with a poor £263,000 from 335 cinemas.

That result puts its screen average ahead of Lionsgate’s The Choice, the latest romantic drama adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel. The Choice kicked off with a weak £140,000 from 205 venues. UK grosses for Sparks films have been spiralling downwards for a while now. His last effort, The Longest Ride, kicked off with £419,000, and before that there were The Best of Me (£488,000 plus previews of £149,000), Safe Haven (£812,000) and The Lucky One (£830,000 plus previews of £329,000). Back in 2010, Dear John, starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, began its UK run with just under £2m, including previews of £722,000.

Warner Bros released Truth, starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford, with little marketing support, and a feeble debut of just under £27,000 from 113 sites resulted. This title was presumably greenlit with an awards positioning in mind. After it became evident that Truth was not going to make headway with voters – and that any push on Blanchett this year would be for Carol instead – the film’s fate was pretty much sealed.

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