UK Box Office

The big battle: X-Men v Alice

Having debuted with £5.31m plus £2.05m in previews, X-Men: Apocalypse looked on course for a solid second weekend, perhaps declining at a similar rate (53%) to the second frame of previous X-Men title Days of Future Past. The challenger: Alice Through the Looking Glass. Predecessor Alice in Wonderland began in March 2010 with £10.56m, on its way to a lifetime total of £42.5m. Not many expected this sequel, which was not directed by Tim Burton, to perform at that level – but residual affection for the franchise should remain?

The result: X-Men: Apocalypse fell a par-for-the-course 52%, with second-weekend takings of £2.54m. After 12 days, the film has grossed £12.13m, which rises to just under £13m including bank holiday Monday. That was enough to resist the challenge of Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, which begins with a disappointing £2.23m, a mere 21% of Alice in Wonderland’s opening weekend gross. Including the bank holiday (when Alice beat X-Men), that number rises to a healthier £3.12m. This result will be a rather nasty jolt for Disney, after a glorious run, in which all of its divisions – including Pixar (Inside Out), Lucasfilm (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Marvel (Captain America: Civil War), Walt Disney Animation (Zootropolis) and Walt Disney Pictures (The Jungle Book) – delivered a series of hits that has made the studio the envy of Hollywood.

Of course, there is no such thing as a Midas touch, and a flop was going to show up sooner or later. The poor result for Alice Through the Looking Glass is a salutary lesson that just because audiences embraced one film doesn’t necessarily mean they desire to see another featuring the same characters. That can often be the case with comedies – Ted 2 fell well below Ted – and examples from other genres include Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, where sequel Cradle of Life (£5.30m) fell far short of the original (£12.82m). An even more potent example is The Chronicles of Narnia, which saw second episode Prince Caspian (£11.79m) struggle to make much more than a quarter of the box office of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (£44.40m) here in the UK. Whether Johnny Depp’s current personal travails played into this result is anyone’s guess. More likely, Through the Looking Glass is a less-loved and less-read book, and therefore didn’t deliver equivalent brand value. Or perhaps the Mad Hatter is simply one of Depp’s more distinctive characters where a little goes a very long way, and once was enough for most audiences. With kids now at home for the half-term holiday, Alice should play reasonably strongly all week – and, indeed, Disney reports that the film topped the box office on Tuesday by a significant margin, enough to move it past X-Men: Apocalypse for the week so far.

The star vehicle: Money Monster

With £821,000 from 414 cinemas, Money Monster has landed in that middle ground between a bona fide hit and a costly flop. Bank holiday Monday pushes the tally to an OK £1.10m. Money Monster benefited from two A-list stars in the shape of George Clooney and Julia Roberts, but the financial TV show setting might be considered less than broadly mainstream. Roberts is coming off flop remake Secret in Their Eyes, and Clooney off the Coens’ amiable Hollywood satireHail, Caesar!. Before that he was in The Monuments Men and Tomorrowland: A World Beyond – two films that didn’t quite live up to their creative potential, and which achieved UK openings respectively of £1.48m and £1.62m.

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