The winner: Finding Dory
With Finding Dory now the most successful animated movie of all time at the US box-office ($469m so far), the pressure was on the UK division of Disney – which has always performed well with Pixar movies – to come up with a similar result. And the Finding Nemo sequel has certainly gotten off to a flying start, with debut weekend takings of £8.12m. That’s the second biggest three-day opening for a Disney or Pixar animated film, behind only Toy Story 3, which began in July 2010 with £11.49m, plus previews of £9.69m. In terms of the whole animation sector, including companies such as DreamWorks Animation and Illumination Entertainment, Finding Dory has delivered the seventh-biggest three-day opening, behind Minions, Toy Story 3, Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, Despicable Me 2 and The Simpsons Movie.
If previews are included in opening weekend tallies, then several other films leapfrog Finding Dory, including The Secret Life of Pets (£9.58m including £3.63m in previews). To replicate Finding Dory’s US success and become the biggest animated title ever in the UK, the film would have to overtake Toy Story 3, which reached £73.8m. That almost certainly won’t happen. A more realistic target is Pixar’s second biggest UK hit, Toy Story 2 (£44.4m, not including the 3D re-release), or its third, Monsters, Inc (£37.9m). Even matching Finding Nemo (£37.4m) would be a significant achievement.
One factor in the film’s favour is that it has the whole of the rest of the summer school holiday ahead of it, with none of the family films yet to come (such asPete’s Dragon and Swallows and Amazons) offering equivalent commercial appeal. The Secret Life of Pets is still in the Top 10, but having already passed the £30m milestone at the weekend, it has now presumably reached the bulk of its total audience. Ice Age: Collision Course, which grossed less than £200,000 at the weekend, looks a rather spent force, with a poor £6.06m so far.
The runner-up: Jason Bourne
When Universal extended its Bourne franchise with 2012’s The Bourne Legacy, starring Jeremy Renner, the film debuted in the UK with £2.10m plus previews of £2.54m, on its way to a final total of £11.11m. That was a big drop from 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum – the last to feature Matt Damon, and the last to be directed by Paul Greengrass – which reached a final total of just below £24m. With Jason Bourne, both Damon and Greengrass are back, and so are audiences. The fifth film in the franchise – and the fourth to feature the central character – has started its UK run with £5.31m including previews, taking the five-day opening total to £7.60m. That compares with a debut for The Bourne Ultimatum of £5.32m, or £6.55m including previews.
Like The BFG the week before, Jason Bourne has proved a welcome programming fit not just at multiplex venues but also at independent cinemas, trading on the cachet of its director, actor and brand. The fact that arthouse hits are currently few and far between is also encouraging indie venues to veer into a more mainstream programming mix. Even if Jason Bourne ultimately fails to catch Ultimatum, it will have no problem sailing past the lifetime totals of The Bourne Identity (£7.88m) and The Bourne Supremacy (£11.56m).