UK Box Office

The winner: Kung Fu Panda 3

While the February half-term holiday this year saw Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks Animation all sit out the contest – ceding the field to Fox’s Chipmunks franchise – it’s a different story this Easter. Good Friday sees the arrival of Disney Animation’s Zootropolis, and it’s already begun popping up in previews, with more to follow. It’s been preceded by DreamWorks Animation’sKung Fu Panda 3, which cruised to an easy win at the box office with £3.18m from 583 cinemas, plus £1.59m in previews, for a total of £4.77m. The weekend number is very similar to previous entries in the franchise, although more aggressive previews on the earlier films pushed those totals higher. Kung Fu Panda debuted in July 2008, with £3.11m plus £2.96m for a £6.07m total. Kung Fu Panda 2 began in June 2011, with £3.07m plus £3.12m in previews for a £6.19m total. Kung Fu Panda 3 has the whole Easter school holiday ahead of it – two solid weeks when families will be available for cinema visits, although it will face fierce competition from Zootropolis.

The runner-up: Allegiant

Landing a place below Kung Fu Panda 3, and with about half the box office, is Allegiant, the latest in The Divergent Series. This third entry in the franchise has begun with £1.58m, plus £262,000 in Thursday previews, for a four-day total of £1.84m. Stakeholders may have concerns that the franchise is now moving in the wrong direction, since the original Divergent kicked off in April 2014 with £1.77m, and Insurgent just under a year later with £2.55m plus previews of £385,000, for a £2.94m total. Ignoring previews, Allegiant has opened 38% below its predecessor. If previews are included in the calculations, it’s a very similar story: Allegiant is 37% behind Insurgent. The budget of Allegiant has not been confirmed, but the first film is believed to have cost $85m, and the second $110m. These films have a significant physical cost, and are a lot more expensive than rival franchise Maze Runner, for example. Both Maze Runner films outgrossed both in the Divergent series so far, going by worldwide box office. The wisdom of splitting the final novel in Veronica Roth’s YA trilogy into two films – Allegiant and next year’s Ascendant – may be called into question. If audience interest continues to flag, this hardly looks like the easy commercial win that resulted from the extending of the Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games film franchises.

The real runner-up: London Has Fallen

Although Allegiant occupies second position in the official comScore chart, it does so only by virtue of the film’s Thursday previews. Going by Friday-to-Sunday takings only, the runner-up honours belong to London Has Fallen, which grossed £1.80m, taking its 11-day tally to £6.44m. The Gerard Butler actioner fell just 34% from the previous frame – the gentlest decline of any film in the top 10. That’s remarkable for several reasons. First, London Has Fallen is a sequel, so you would expect business to be front-loaded, with fans rushing out in the first week. Second, it’s a mainstream action picture, which is a genre that tends to skew to the kind of audiences (including young males) that are traditionally quick to see films, swiftly moving on to fresh releases. Third, reviews have been largely hostile, often an indication that word-of-mouth will be weak once the film begins to engage beyond the core fanbase. The film’s IMDb user rating remains a decent 6.4/10, and the MetaCritic score is 28/100 – evidently the audience and the paid professionals continue to disagree on the film’s merits. London Has Fallen has already overtaken the lifetime total here of predecessor Olympus Has Fallen (£6.22m). The film may be benefiting from a local boost in the UK, but the numbers suggest that further cities may soon be welcoming a dishevelled Butler trotting around familiar landmarks with US president Aaron Eckhart, while dispatching evil terrorists.

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