UK Box Office

The winner: sunshine

The first gloriously sunny weekend of the year had a predictable impact on the UK box office, with takings declining 54% from the previous frame. Pretty much everything fell by at least 60%, a rare exception being Secret Cinema’s run of 28 Days Later, which held steady, and benefits from audiences typically having long ago booked tickets.

Despite strong reviews and warm word of mouth (8.5/10 at IMDb), Captain America: Civil War saw takings fall by 67%. Embarrassingly, that’s only marginally better than the 68% drop experienced by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in its second session. Box office stands at £27.4m after 10 days, which compares with £27.8m at the same stage for the DC Comics rival.

Marvel will now be hoping to arrest the fall, ultimately overtaking Batman v Superman’s total of £36.6m. Whatever happens, Civil War is heading for a lifetime tally far in excess of any previous Captain America film – The First Avengermanaged only £10.4m in the UK, while sequel The Winter Soldier reached £19.3m.

The comedy sequel: Bad Neighbours 2

When Bad Neighbours landed in the box-office chart in May 2014, it did so with a splashy £8.45m – a stunning debut for a relatively low-budget comedy. On closer inspection, that number included a whopping six days of previews, responsible for £5.16m of the opening gross. Still, the three-day weekend debut of £3.29m was not so shabby. Now Bad Neighbours 2 arrives, opening with £1.69m, and no previews. That’s only 51% of the opening weekend box office achieved by Bad Neighbours over the same period.

Comedy sequels often present studios with commercial challenges. Warners powered The Hangover: Part II to £32.8m in the UK – well up on The Hangover’s already impressive £22.1m. The studio had the freedom to send the guys off to Thailand in that film – whereas Bad Neighbours’ specific location limits options. Some comedy films lend themselves to sequelisation more readily than others, especially when rooted in a strong group of characters (for example, The Inbetweeners). Bad Neighbours offered a marketable high concept – hard-partying students next door – but not necessarily one that audiences needed to see twice.

The upscale comedy: Florence Foster Jenkins

While Bad Neighbours 2 failed to reach the commercial heights of its predecessor, you could argue that a UK opening of £1.69m is not so bad for a Hollywood comedy. It’s also more than double the debut of rival new release Florence Foster Jenkins – and at 76 fewer cinemas (490 against 556). Florence, starring Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant and Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg, begins with £713,000, including previews of £130,000. Strip out the previews, and the site average is a poor £1,049. Among all sectors of the UK cinema audience, it’s generally accepted that older, upscale viewers are most reluctant to abandon weekend garden sunshine. This audience is also more apt to visit a cinema midweek, and is generally slower to see films. For all those reasons, Pathe and distribution partner Fox have every reason to hope that Florence Foster Jenkins will pick up after this disappointing start.