UK Box Office

After three weeks at the top spot, Bridget Jones’s Baby finally makes way, knocked aside by the big-screen adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ bestseller, The Girl on the Train. The murder mystery begins in the UK with a sturdy £5.18m, with Wednesday and Thursday previews boosting the total to £6.96m.

The obvious comparison title is Gone Girl, which began in October 2014 with £3.59m plus £517,000 in previews. Ignoring previews, The Girl on the Train has opened 44% bigger than Gone Girl.

Local distributor eOne has reason to be particularly pleased with the outcome. In the US, The Girl on the Train kicked off with $24.5m (£19.5m), which – by rule of thumb – suggests a UK debut at about the £2.5m mark. The achieved result is more than double that. A factor may be the local popularity of the book, whose author moved from Zimbabwe to London in 1989. The transposition of the storyto upstate New York does not seem to have dented the film’s appeal in Hawkins’ adopted home market.

The sustained success of Bridget Jones’s Baby this past month may have given eOne some concern, given the female skew on both titles. The flipside is that the distributor could hardly have hoped for a better trailering platform for its film. It’s also the case that success can breed success: a big title can bring the audience back, and reignite enthusiasm for the cinema.

The other winner: My Scientology Movie

When My Scientology Movie, starring and co-written by Louis Theroux, was beaten to the punch by Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, film-makers John Dower and Simon Chinn had reason to be despondent. Gibney’s film premiered to acclaim at Sundance in January 2015 while My Scientology Movie was still in the cutting room, making it a tougher sell to A-list festivals and top distributors. Despite premiering at the London film festival last October, key international sales were not confirmed until May this year.

UK distributor Altitude opted to release the film on the first full weekend of October, 51 weeks after its LFF debut. Any concerns about the fate of the documentary evaporated as soon as tickets went on sale, with key indie venues such as Bristol Watershed, Glasgow film theatre, Manchester Home and London ICA reporting rapid sellouts. My Scientology Movie has opened with a very encouraging £93,000 from 26 cinemas, with previews taking the total up to £107,000.

In addition, a special event screening with a Theroux Q&A was beamed from London’s Royal Festival Hall into 240 cinemas on Monday evening. Altitude reports more than £330,000 for this, including the host venue, taking the four-day total to £438,000. Gibney’s Scientology film grossed £76,000 in the UK over the course of its lifetime.

The survivor: Bridget Jones’s Baby

Adding another £6.52m in the past seven days, Bridget Jones’s Baby continues its phenomenal run, with a cumulative total of £37.87m after 24 days. That puts it ahead of the lifetime total of 2004’s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (£36.m), behind only 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary (£42.1m) in the all-time league table of romantic comedies at the UK box office. Baby saw its steepest weekly decline to date – 38% – at the weekend, but any drop under 40% is generally considered a decent hold, and the film faced formidable new competition with the arrival of The Girl on the Train. Including Monday’s takings, Baby has now overtaken Deadpool (£37.9m) to become the third biggest hit of 2016, behind only The Jungle Book (£46.1m) and Finding Dory (£42m)

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