UK Box Office

The winner: Eddie the Eagle

The week after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was always going to be a relatively quiet session for new releases, but Lionsgate sensed a counter-programming opportunity with its heartfelt British comedy Eddie the Eagle. Released on Easter Monday to take advantage of the school holiday, the film has delivered a seven-day debut of £2.83m. Strip out the first four days, and you get a three-day weekend number of £1.55m.

Lionsgate is billing this as the biggest UK opening of a British film since Spectre last October, although that claim deserves qualification. If Eddie’s previews are ignored, and it’s the three-day weekend numbers that are compared, both The Lady in the Van (£2.26m, last November) and Dad’s Army (£2.08m, February) debuted bigger.

British cinema bookers have been excited about Eddie’s commercial potential since Lionsgate started screening the film in early December. Comparisons such as Billy Elliot and The Full Monty have been mentioned – setting the bar rather unrealistically high for this genial crowdpleaser.

Replicating the success of Billy Elliot (£18.39m lifetime) or even East Is East(£10.37m) is a feat that has eluded many a plucky Britcom in the intervening years, including Kinky Boots (£3.06m), Made In Dagenham (£3.86m) and Pride (£4.07m). Lionsgate rolled the dice on Eddie with a sizeable marketing push, and will be pleased with, and relieved by, the outcome so far.

The family winner: Zootropolis

Having debuted the previous weekend with £5.31m including significant previews, Zootropolis added another £7.29m over the past seven days, taking its total so far to £12.6m. Weekend box office fell by a slim 24%, and the Disney animation should continue to perform robustly this week, with some kids still off school for Easter – in fact, Zootropolis was the biggest grossing film in the UK on Monday, ahead of both Batman v Superman and the newly released The Huntsman: Winter’s War.

The Good Dinosaur, from Disney Animation’s stablemate Pixar, reached a rather poor £15.05m (the lowest ever for a Pixar feature film in the UK), and Zootropolis is clearly going to sail past that number. Takings should significantly soften after Sunday, however, with most kids back to school next Monday.

Disney has had to compete for the family audience with DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 3 (£11.15m so far), and to some extent with Eddie the Eagle and the 12A-rated Batman v Superman.

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