UK Box Office

The winner #1: Marvel

When Marvel released Captain America: The First Avenger in July 2011 through its then distribution partner Paramount, the film went on to gross a rather indifferent £10.4m in the UK over the course of its lifetime. That’s the lowest UK gross for a Marvel Avengers film, unless you count 2008’s The Incredible Hulk(£8.3m).

In 2014, Captain America: The Winter Soldier delivered a significant improvement, with a lifetime total of £19.3m. However, that number was still a bit down on Thor: The Dark World (£20.1m), both Iron Man sequels (£21.2m, £37.0m) and of course Avengers Assemble (£51.9m). Was the Captain – beefy, square-jawed and slightly dull – somehow not quite cutting it with fans?

Whatever the answer to that question, Marvel was taking no chances with the third Captain America film, packaging the patriotically attired shield slinger with a panoply of other Avengers characters, notably top franchise performer Iron Man. The outcome for Captain America: Civil War has been spectacularly successful: a UK debut of £14.47m, or £19.12m if takings for bank holiday Monday are added in.

Even omitting Monday, that number is bigger than the openings of all three Iron Man films. Avengers Assemble kicked off with £15.78m back in April 2012, but that included £2.55m in previews, so needs to be adjusted down to £13.23m to make a valid comparison. Age of Ultron began with £18.02m, or £14.42m if previews are stripped out, according to the numbers released at the time by the official data collector. Disney has a slightly higher opening number for Age of Ultron, which means that Civil War’s three-day weekend is 1% below it. Either way, Captain America has opened at the top end of the range for a Marvel Avengers film.

Batman v Superman debuted with £14.62m, just ahead of Civil War. It went on to suffer steep drops, declining 68% in the second frame and by at least 50% thereafter. Civil War currently enjoys a very high IMDb user rating of 8.6/10. Even though this should edge downwards as the film reaches a broader mix of audiences, the film is virtually certain to enjoy better traction in the market than its critically lambasted DC Comics rival.

The winner #2: Disney

The Civil War success continues Disney’s strong current run, since the studio’s The Jungle Book is sitting pretty in second place, with another £8.8m over the bank holiday weekend, for a total to date of £33.3m (including Monday). Three-day weekend takings were £5.76m. Only three 2015 releases – monster hits Jurassic World, Spectre and Star Wars: The Force Awakens – delivered a third weekend above £5m.

The Jungle Book should soon overtake the likes of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (£37.8m), before going on to challenge Disney’s own Alice in Wonderland(£42.5m) and Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe(£44.4m).

Disney’s Zootropolis is in fourth place in the official comScore weekend chart, although a strong performance on Monday means that it actually ranks third, ahead of Eye in the Sky, over the whole four-day period. That gives Disney the top three places – a feat that Universal achieved one weekend last July with Minions,Ted 2 and Jurassic World.

With £22.7m including bank holiday Monday, Zootropolis is now a couple of million pounds ahead of the lifetime totals of Disney Animation’s Big Hero 6 andTangled. It should soon overtake Wreck-It Ralph (£23.8m).

The arthouse hit: Son of Saul

Last year, only seven non-Bollywood foreign language films managed £200,000 at the UK box-office – or eight if you include Gemma Bovery, which was partly in English. The sector is looking a little rosier this year, since we’ve already hadRams (£277,000), Marguerite (£228,000), Dheepan (£372,000) and the English/German Victoria (£445,000).

Now foreign language Oscar winner Son of Saul joins the fray, with weekend takings of £131,000 from 55 cinemas, or £179,000 with previews added in, and £227,000 including bank holiday Monday. That number is down on the debut ofWild Tales (£173,000 from 50 cinemas, plus £10,000 in previews), which went on to be last year’s biggest non-Bollywood foreign language hit at the UK box office. It is, however, up on Force Majeure (£87,000 from 33 cinemas, including very modest previews), which became the year’s second-biggest hit in the category.

Given the exceptional critical acclaim (89/100 at Meta Critic) and Oscar success, the planets always looked nicely aligned for Son of Saul, although the Auschwitz death camp setting might be termed a commercial negative. Languages spoken are listed as Yiddish, German, Russian, Greek, Slovak, Polish, French, Hungarian and Hebrew.

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