UK Box Office

The winner: Doctor Strange

Disney-Marvel’s strategy of creating film franchises beyond its core Avengers group of characters has achieved its latest success with the release of Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. A UK debut of £5.49m at the weekend and £9.29m including three days of previews represents a robustly encouraging result. While below the opening numbers of recent Avengers films, it compares favourably to Ant-Man’s debut of £4.01m in July last year, and is also better than Guardians of the Galaxy’s initial £4.99m plus £1.37m in previews in 2014.

Marvel and parent Disney have significantly expanded the range of stories and genres that work within the brand. While Marvel has long straddled comedy and science fiction, Guardians of the Galaxy pushed it further in that direction. Now Doctor Strange takes the action into a cosmic realm of astral projection, time loops and alternate dimensions.

Boosted by the half-term holiday last week, Doctor Strange exceeded £1m box office every day of release. The film should have no problem exceeding Ant-Man’s £16.3m and may approach Guardians of the Galaxy’s £28.5m. Cumberbatch’s previous best as a lead actor was The Imitation Game, with £16.4m.

The indie hit: I, Daniel Blake

Boosted in part by an expansion from 94 to 211 cinemas, I, Daniel Blake rises 18% from the previous weekend, for a 10-day total of £1.33m. There were significant individual successes at key venues – takings went up at Manchester HOME – and they barely dipped at other core indie sites. Tyneside Cinema delivered another stellar result, aided by the film’s local setting.

I, Daniel Blake has set a faster pace than any previous Ken Loach film. The Wind That Shakes the Barley – Loach’s biggest UK hit – stood at £1.16m at this stage of its run. That film was boosted by huge numbers in Ireland, which is treated as part of a single reporting territory with the UK. It went on to a whopping lifetime gross of £3.91m. Loach’s second biggest UK hit, The Angels’ Share, reached £1.98m, boosted by a stellar result in Scotland.

Top indie challengers were the relatively modest Train to Busan (£38,000 including previews), After Love (£23,000) and Werner Herzog’s Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (£20,000 plus £51,000 in previews). Already on release are Queen of Katwe (£37,000 at the weekend), My Scientology Movie(£32,000) and American Honey (£25,000). I, Daniel Blake grossed £476,000 over the weekend period. The film led the British independent film awardsnominations announced this week, with seven nods.

The phenomenon: Bridget Jones’s Baby

It’s official: Bridget Jones’s Baby is now the biggest grossing film of 2016 at UK cinemas. Although it ended the weekend with £46.17m, just behind The Jungle Book’s £46.19m, Monday’s takings pushed Bridget to £46.27m. Other top titles this year include Finding Dory (£42.6m), Deadpool (£37.9m), Captain America: Civil War (£37.0m) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (£36.6m). Not many would have predicted that the revival of Working Title’s Bridget Jones franchise would gross £10m more here than the year’s big superhero smackdowns from Marvel and DC.

Achieving its own milestone is The Girl on the Train, which cracked £20m on Sunday. It’s the 13th film this year to achieve that feat, following The Revenant, Deadpool, Batman v Superman, Zootropolis, The Jungle Book, Captain America: Civil War, The Secret Life of Pets, The BFG, Finding Dory, Jason Bourne, Suicide Squad and Bridget Jones’s Baby.

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