The winner: Bridget Jones’s Baby
The US opening may have offered a disappointing $8.6m (£6.64m), but Bridget Jones’s Baby delivered a storming victory on home turf, with a UK debut of £8.11m. That’s the biggest opening ever for a film released in September, says distributor Universal.
Ignoring preview numbers, Bridget Jones’s Baby has the seventh biggest debut of the year, almost level with Finding Dory (£8.12m) and behind Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War, Suicide Squad, Deadpooland The Jungle Book. It opened bigger than summer franchise pictures includingX-Men: Apocalypse (£7.35m, including £2.05m in previews) and Jason Bourne(£7.60m, including £2.29m in previews).
In 2016, the most aptly comparable title for Bridget is Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, which began in early July with £4.04m including negligible previews. Bridget Jones’s Baby has delivered a little more than twice that opening number.
Almost 12 years have elapsed since the release of second film in the series,Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason, and it was hardly inevitable that audiences would return in equivalent numbers. Edge of Reason began with £10.44m, but that includes previews of £3.31m – so it was £7.13m for the actual weekend period. The original Bridget Jones’s Diary kicked off in April 2001 with £5.72m, including previews of £1.14m. Baby has brought the biggest weekend gross of the series.
Bridget Jones’s Baby should play to mixed-gender couples (more of a weekend audience) and female pairs and groups (strong on weekdays). Word of mouth will be crucial to sustain its performance.
The runner-up: Blair Witch
Bridget Jones’s Baby grossed more than eight times its nearest competitor, Blair Witch. Like Bridget, it is the third instalment in a franchise and a belated sequel to a second episode (Book of Shadows, released in 2000). This latest film took £959,000, and while it is some achievement to bring back audiences after the poorly received Book of Shadows, there seemed to be plenty of excitement about a successful creative revival of Blair Witch. Book of Shadows kicked off its UK run with £1.09m, including £108,000 in previews.
The event: The Beatles
The Top 10 chart, below, suggests that Ron Howard’s documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years has achieved a scorching site average, given an opening weekend gross of £655,000 from 96 sites. Indeed, the film has done well – but not that well on a per cinema basis. The £655,000 figure includes the special transmission on Thursday of the film’s London premiere, which contributes £597,000 from 497 cinemas. Thereafter, it has been achieving spotty bookings – encore showings, in event cinema parlance.
Comparisons are hard to make, although the previous week the Nick Cave documentary One More Time With Feeling began with £343,000 from 59 sites, including £260,000 from a Thursday release in wider play.
The Irish hit: The Young Offenders
From a first-time feature director (Peter Foott) and starring two teenage actors also making their big-screen debuts (Alex Murphy, Chris Walley), Irish comedy The Young Offenders has delivered a robust debut in Ireland, with £172,000 from 65 sites. It premieres in the UK at the London film festival on 7 October.Read More…