UK Box Office

The winner: Zootropolis

The Huntsman: Winter’s War may claim bragging rights as the official No 1 movie in the comScore chart, but that’s only down to four days of previews boosting the fairytale adventure’s box office into what is in fact a seven-day opening “weekend”. That leaves Zootropolis as winner over the Friday-to-Sunday period, with £2.37m

With a cumulative total of £18.61m, the Disney animation added £6m over the past seven days, successfully capitalising on the second week of the school Easter holiday. Over the same seven-day period, Winter’s War managed just over £3m – half the Zootropolis box office.

Now that kids are back at school, Zootropolis should slow down in UK cinemas, but it should nevertheless sail past £20m. Last year, Disney Animation’s Big Hero 6 maxed out at £20.7m. In 2011, Tangled scored a comparable £20.5m. Zootropolis should easily overtake, but will of course fall short of Disney’s Frozen, which reached an amazing £40m. Anecdotally, Zootropolis is scoring with adult couples, especially ones in their 20s and 30s, ie not just with family groups – a helpful factor for a strong sustain.

The loser: Batman v Superman

While Zootropolis fell just 14% from the previous weekend, and Eddie the Eagle just 18%, the drop for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a steep 51%. That’s a better result than the horrifying 68% fall that the vigilante team-up experienced in its second session, but third-weekend takings of £2.28m compare rather unfavourably with third-frame box office for previous comic-book films. Last year, Avengers: Age of Ultron, which experienced some rather dramatic falls over the course of its run, took £3.51m in its third session. The equivalent number for Avengers Assemble was £4.17m. For The Dark Knight, it was £4.09m, and for The Dark Knight Rises, £4.29m.

Batman v Superman has reached £33.3m so far, which is by no means a dismal result. However, relative to expectation, and especially relative to the film’s £14.62m debut, it’s a little underpowered. The question now is whether Zack Snyder’s franchise extension can match Tim Miller’s 15-certificate Deadpool, currently at £37.8m. That’s a topic nobody was pondering at the start of the year, given the perceived value of the second-tier Marvel character compared to the mighty combo of DC’s Batman and Superman.

The brand extension: Winter’s War

Is it a prequel, sequel or spinoff? Whatever you call The Huntsman: Winter’s War, it’s not clear that audiences were exactly calling for a follow-up to 2012 fairytale exploitation Snow White and the Huntsman. That film debuted in June 2012 with £2.61m, with previews of £976,000 taking the opening tally to £3.59m. This time, the weekend number is £1.58m, with extensive previews of £1.45m taking the opening to £3.03m.

Comparing like-for-like weekend periods, Winter’s War has opened 39% below its predecessor, which eventually wound up with £15.8m in UK cinemas. One concern is that box office for sequels is usually more front-loaded, as fans of the first film prove nimble customers for the follow-up, and the burn rate for Winter’s War is likely to be higher than was the case with Snow White and the Huntsman. Strong word-of-mouth, of course, would produce a rosier outcome.

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