UK Box Office

The brand resurrection: Brotherhood

Eight years ago, Noel Clarke’s Adulthood stunned the UK film industry when it debuted in the UK with £1.20m from 157 cinemas, on its way to a total of £3.35m. This represented a big jump up from the success of Kidulthood from 2006, and set a high commercial bar for the British urban drama.

Actor, writer, director and producer Clarke went on to pursue other film genres with decidedly mixed commercial success, leaving the British urban genre for other film-makers. And with the 2013 collapse of Revolver Entertainment – the company that distributed the likes of Sket, Shank and Offender as well as Ben Drew’s debut Ill Manors and Adam Deacon’s spoof comedy Anuvahood – the genre was widely considered to have been exploited to death.

So despite the return of Clarke to the genre, with his new film Brotherhood – the final part, he says, of his “hood” trilogy – this latest instalment hardly represented a commercial slam-dunk. Distributors were hardly running at Clarke waving chequebooks, and the film-maker received only a couple of viable bids for financing, eventually choosing Lionsgate.

Brotherhood began its preview run in the UK on bank holiday Monday last week, grossing £971,000 in its first four days. It then took a further £1.01m over the official weekend period, for a seven-day opening tally of £1.98m. Given a release in just 220 cinemas – less than half of the number for all its close competitors – that translates into a very robust site average, even if the film’s preview takings are excluded from the calculation. In fact, Brotherhood’s weekend site average of £4,581 is the highest of any film on release.

Nitpickers may point to the fact that Brotherhood’s three-day number is below Adulthood’s £1.20m debut, and of course ticket price inflation favours the new film. But it’s fair to say that few in the UK film industry thought Brotherhood would come close to the Adulthood result, and Lionsgate – and Clarke – will be amply delighted with this outcome.

The winner: Sausage Party

Released at the weekend into a wide 525 cinemas, animated comedy Sausage Party cruised to an easy victory, nabbing the top spot with a tasty £2.69m, including previews of £369,000. Rated 15 for “very strong language, strong sex references”, Sausage Party is definitely targeting an adult audience, and it’s hard to make relevant commercial comparisons with recent animated films.

Screenplay credits include Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, whose Pineapple Express debuted in the UK in 2008 with £1.37m including £132,000 in previews, and whose This Is the End began in 2013 with 1.39m. More recently, The Night Before, which Goldberg co-wrote with fellow Sausage Party scribes Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir (and one other writer), opened with a disappointing £273,000 from 279 cinemas. Conclusion: while audiences may have rather tired of watching Rogen and pals behaving like idiots, an R-rated orgy involving foodstuffs is definitely novel.

The real runner-up: Finding Dory

While Brotherhood’s previews boosted the film into second place, that position rightfully belongs to Finding Dory, with weekend takings of £1.50m. The Pixar sequel now stands at £38.87m, overtaking fellow Disney release Captain America: Civil War to become the biggest hit of the summer blockbuster season. Last summer’s Pixar hit, Inside Out, reached £39.2m, which Finding Dory will overtake imminently. Of the Pixar canon, Finding Dory is outgrossed only by Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, unless the 3D rerelease of Monsters, Inc (£2.45m) is added to the film’s original tally (£37.91m). Finding Dory is now ahead of Finding Nemo (£37.46m), even if the 3D rerelease (£1.23m) is added in.

The 2-4 September period was the last weekend of the summer holidays before most kids returned to school, with families taking their best chance to catch up on movies. Finding Dory saw box office drop by just 1% from the previous session, The BFG went up 6% and Swallows and Amazons went up 4%. The Secret Life of Pets impressively rose 27%, in its eleventh week of release, and Pete’s Dragon rose 16%. Expect all these titles to drop now the school holiday is over.

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