The winner #1: The Secret Life of Pets
Declining a slim 20%, Illumination Entertainment’s The Secret Life of Pets holds on to the top spot, with second-weekend takings of £4.74m, and a 12-day total of £16.62m. Animation is powering the market on both sides of the Atlantic, with Pixar’s Finding Dory reigning supreme at the US box office for the last three weeks.
For comparison, this year Disney Animation’s Zootropolis stood at £12.6m after two weekends, and DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 3 was at £7.08m. Zootropolis has reached £23.7m, so The Secret Life of Pets could be on target for around £31m. Ice Age: Collision Course played previews at the weekend, but does not appear to have posed much threat, given Pets’ modest decline. Finding Dory looks a more worthy adversary, but it doesn’t arrive until the end of the month. Also coming soon: live-action/CGI blend The BFG.
The winner # 2: Absolutely Fabulous
The TV show was in its prime as long ago as the mid-90s, but Absolutely Fabulous has retained significant fan affection. So would audiences approach Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie with caution or nostalgic enthusiasm?
With big-screen sitcoms, the biggest commercial successes lately have been exploitations of very current or recent properties (The Inbetweeners Movie, Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie). On the other hand, The Bad Education Movie did not want for currency – it wasn’t a powerful enough comedy brand to deliver a big cinema audience. Dad’s Army benefited from brand power, but the recasting represented a challenge for fans of the show.
Absolutely Fabulous was able to retain key cast, and the ageing of central duo Edina and Patsy arguably works in the premise’s favour. Powered by an effective marketing campaign from distributor Fox and brand partners, the film has opened at the top end of expectations, with a debut of just over £4m. In February, Dad’s Army began with £2.08m. Sex and the City kicked off with £5.12m plus £3.65m in previews in May 2008.
The weekend tends to deliver more of a couples audience, and midweek can be a favoured slot for female friendship groups. Absolutely Fabulous may achieve some pretty robust numbers on weekdays. On the other hand, some of the luxury, premium-priced packages being offered by cinemas (Absolutely Fabulous with Bolly, Darling; Absolutely Fabulous with Brunch, Darling) seem a better fit with weekend indulgence. The film was easily the highest-grossing title on Monday, falling just short of £700,000, and 70% ahead of the next title in the market. Some cinemas are offering premium-priced packages, including Absolutely Fabulous with Bolly, Darling, and Absolutely Fabulous with Brunch, Darling.
The winner # 3: Central Intelligence
Delivering the biggest UK opening of Kevin Hart’s career – unless you count his voice work in The Secret Life of Pets – action comedy Central Intelligence begins with a sturdy £3.05m. That compares with a £1.42m debut for the similarly conceived Ride Along in February 2014, and a £2.14m debut for Ride Along 2 in January this year.
Hart receives a hefty commercial assist this time from Dwayne Johnson, who has enjoyed big numbers in the last three Fast and Furious films, and powered San Andreas to a muscular £4.63m opening (including £740,000 in previews) last summer. As for comedies, Johnson had supporting roles in The Other Guys(£8.19m lifetime) and Get Smart (£4.84m lifetime), but Central Intelligence represents his biggest comedy opening. Johnson stars in the forthcomingBaywatch, a Jumanji reboot (reteaming with Hart) and Fast 8. San Andreas 2 is in development.
The success of The Secret Life of Pets, Absolutely Fabulous and Central Intelligence brings solidity to the top of the chart, with all three films grossing £3m-plus at the weekend. The last time this happened was in December 2013, with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continuesand Frozen.