UK Box Office

The winner: Ghostbusters

After months of negativity from a minority of fans disturbed by the gender switch of its central characters, Ghostbusters has finally materialised. A UK opening of £2.69m plus £1.7m in Monday-to-Thursday previews doesn’t scream blockbuster numbers, especially given a production budget reported to be north of $140m.

For comparison, The Legend of Tarzan opened the previous weekend with £2.76m plus previews of £809,000. Both films had the benefit of audience familiarity. With a reported budget of $180m, The Legend of Tarzan’s extensive CGI animals and lengthy production period cost even more.

Ghostbusters had to contend with widespread sunshine after a disappointingly cloudy and rainy period. Those are tough conditions for any new film. Many state schools break up for summer this week, and Sony will be hoping for a decent run for Ghostbusters, which is rated 12A.

The runner-up: Ice Age: Collision Course

At second place in the chart, Ice Age: Collision Course’s debut figure is £3.78m. However, a hefty £2.54m of that comes from two weekends of previews, including a chunk from Ireland and Scotland, where the film had already opened. Strip out the previews and Ice Age’s real weekend takings fall to £1.24m – just enough for fourth place.

This represents a calamitous fall from the previous Ice Age movie, Continental Drift, which began its run four years ago. That film followed a similar distribution model, with four days of national previews, and an early release in Ireland and Scotland. At the end of its first full weekend, it stood at £13.05m, on its way to a final £30.4m.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that presenting a fifth Ice Age film to audiences was rather testing their indulgence. The lowest-grossing entry in the franchise to date is the original Ice Age, which notched up £15.1m in 2002. Collision Course has its work cut out to match that number. The film sees Scrat drifting off into space – perhaps it would be a fitting end to leave him there.

The real runner-up: The Secret Life of Pets

With fourth-weekend takings of £2.05m, Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets is the film that really deserves second place in the chart. UK gross to date is £25.75m, overtaking Zootropolis (£23.85m) to become the biggest animated film of the year so far. Only one other 2016 release – The Jungle Book – has grossed more than £2m on four weekends. It’s a feat that has eluded many box-office big hitters including Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Overall, there is some notable depth in the marketplace currently, with eighth-placed Central Intelligence managing a nifty £767,000. This is the highest gross for a film in eighth place since January 2015, when Birdman found itself in that position with takings of £826,000.

The special event: Dirty Dancing

Posting the biggest ever weekend for a Secret Cinema event, Dirty Dancing has debuted with an energetic £946,000 from a single venue. Last summer, Secret Cinema’s major event, The Empire Strikes Back, began with £304,000, on its way to £6.32m. Dirty Dancing is playing only six times – against Empire’s 100 – but venue capacity is huge.

Dirty Dancing grossed £1.62m during its initial cinema run in 1987, and £224,000 on its 20th-anniversary rerelease. This six-day Secret Cinema presentation looks set to match the combined gross, although this comparison does not take account of inflation. Admission is £65 for a standard ticket, and it’s fair to assume that the company holds on to a big proportion of that number, to cover the costs of delivering the immersive experience, recreating Max Kellerman’s Catskills holiday resort.

The flop #1: Keanu

When Keanu, starring TV comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, debuted in the US in April, it rolled out into 2,658 cinemas, grossing $9.45m, on its way to $20.6m. The pair are less well known in the UK, presenting distributor Warners with the challenge of finding the right size of release and the appropriate marketing spend. In the end, Keanu was released into 52 cinemas, taking a disappointing £13,700.

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