UK Box Office

The winner: Bridget Jones’s Baby

The residual affection for endearingly self-sabotaging singleton Bridget Jones meant it was always likely that a large audience would show up on opening weekend, which it did, resulting in an impressive UK debut of £8.11m. What happened next was always going to be harder to call – word-of-mouth would play a big factor in Bridget Jones’s Baby’s continued fortunes.

On the evidence so far, that audience word is very warm. First, the film held up well in midweek, grossing a nifty £6.65m over the Monday-to-Thursday period, for a seven-day total of £14.77m. Next, Baby declined just 20% on its second weekend, earning another £6.45m for a 10-day tally of £21.22m.

While a few films so far this year in the UK have earned money quicker – notablyBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War – cracking £20m in 10 days is phenomenal for a film that does not have the benefit of a top-tier superhero. And Baby is already ahead of the total gross of summer blockbusters such as X-Men: Apocalypse (£18.35m), Star Trek Beyond (£15.95m) and Independence Day: Resurgence (£12.10m). It will soon overtake Jason Bourne, which has reached £23.03m. Universal reports that Baby is already the highest grossing film ever released in September in the UK. Top September titles from recent years include Legend (£18.3m), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (£14.2m) and Looper (£10.2m).

In the US, takings for Bridget Jones’s Baby are a disappointing $16.6m, but foreign takings are surging ahead with $67.4m so far, boosted by big numbers in the UK and Australia. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason grossed $40m in the US and $222m in foreign. Bridget Jones’s Diary saw less of a disparity, although foreign ($210m) far exceeded the US total ($72m).

The runner-up: The Magnificent Seven

Bridget Jones’s Baby in its second weekend grossed more than three times its nearest competitor, The Magnificent Seven, which debuted with a decent £2.13m. The western remake likewise opened in the US at the weekend, grossing $34.7m. By rule of thumb, based on the US result, you might expect a UK debut of about £3.5m. However, that yardstick was never likely to apply in the case of The Magnificent Seven. First, westerns are rarely as popular in the UK. And second, lead actor Denzel Washington has consistently proved a bigger star in the US.

In terms of recent comparisons, The Hateful Eight kicked off earlier this year with a more muscular £2.78m, while Django Unchained began with an almost identical £2.80m.

The family surge

While adult-skewing films typically decay each week at a rate of about 40-45%, that is not the case for virtually all the family titles in the marketplace. Finding Dory’s gentle dip of just 5% sees it back in the Top 5 in its ninth week of release. After an uncertain start, Kubo and the Two Strings is also holding well, with declines of 29% and 16%. It’s in third place, just above Finding Dory. The BFG, down just 3% from the previous weekend, is back in the Top 10, and with £29.8m so far looks certain to crack £30m. Lower down the chart, Pete’s Dragon, Ice Age: Collision Course and The Secret Life of Pets all posted very strong holds.

The soft debut: The Girl With All the Gifts

For a modestly budgeted, smart British indie genre film such as The Girl with All the Gifts, a UK debut of £433,000 (including £20,000 previews) sounds not so shabby. But a soft site average of only £1,175 tells a different story, and that’s because UK distributor Warners rolled the film out into a broad 368 cinemas.

It’s easy to criticise the strategy as likely to dilute the film’s target audience, and a focus on indie cinemas would have given the sector more ownership of the film, and thus boosted the average. But younger genre fans are more likely to be found in multiplex venues, and Warners had every reason to go after that audience.

Also in indieland, Taika Waititi’s comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople posted an encouraging hold, down just 19% at the box office, albeit helped by a modest expansion from 63 to 76 cinemas. The film is performing particularly well in indie venues, and gross so far is £391,000.

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