UK Box Office

The winner: Arrival

Arrival was the only film released at the weekend in more than 100 prints, and it enjoyed plenty of attention from cinemagoers, pushing Doctor Strange off the top spot. Opening at 561 cinemas, the brainy sci-fi took £2.57m, with Thursday takings pushing the total to £2.92m. The JK Rowling-created Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them arrives this week, which explains why Arrival was given such a clear field – distributors in general were reluctant to release a film and then have it clobbered after seven days.

Arrival represents the biggest opening for a film directed by Quebec-born Denis Villeneuve. In October 2015, Sicario began with £1.60m, including £220,000 in previews. Two years earlier, Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, kicked off with £1.37m, including £38,000 in previews. Arrival, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, is hardly more star-driven than either of Villeneuve’s previous efforts, which suggests cinemagoers are responding to the genre, an appealing premise and the overall buzz.

The chasing pack

Family animations Trolls and Storks posted strong holds, dipping by just 9% and 7% from the previous session, while Nocturnal Animals fell a slim 12%. This means that Amy Adams is enjoying two sizable, awards-buzz titles, which are both straddling multiplexes and indie cinemas. Nocturnal Animals is doing especially well in the latter, with second-weekend takings of £617,000 taking the tally for Tom Ford’s film to a solid £1.85m.

Both Doctor Strange (£19.6m so far) and Trolls (£19.3m) are poised to pass £20m, when they will become the 14th and 15th films this year to do so, joining The Revenant, Deadpool, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Zootropolis, The Jungle Book, Captain America: Civil War, The Secret Life of Pets, The BFG, Finding Dory, Jason Bourne, Suicide Squad, Bridget Jones’s Baby and The Girl on the Train. In 2015, 15 films took £20m-plus at the box office. This year, there will certainly be more: Fantastic Beasts and Rogue One will do so, for sure, while Disney Animation and Sony will be pinning their hopes on Moana and Passengers.

A Street Cat Named Bob is another title experiencing a very small decline – down just 12% from its opening session. The adaptation of James Bowen’s memoir has reached £2.61m after 10 days.

The disappointment: American Pastoral

Landing in 19th place, Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut American Pastoralmakes an inauspicious start to its UK run, with £57,000 from 82 cinemas. Film-makers have been trying to adapt Philip Roth’s novels since 1969’s attempt at Goodbye, Columbus (published in 1959), with variable results. One notable effort was Robert Benton’s crack at The Human Stain (2003), which starred Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman. It began with £74,000 from 94 cinemas on its way to a mediocre total of £163,000.

American Pastoral faces what seems to be the cold shoulder from bookers at leading indie cinemas. A few Everyman sites played it at the weekend, as did Edinburgh Filmhouse (where McGregor is a local hero), but the Curzon and Picturehouse chains didn’t have it, nor did independent venues such as Home Manchester, Watershed Bristol, Showroom Sheffield, Tyneside Cinema, Broadway Nottingham and – surprisingly – Glasgow Film Theatre. American Pastoral has an IMDb user rating of 6.2/10 and a discouraging Metacritic score of 43/100.

Yet another adaptation of a Roth novel, Indignation, arrives this Friday. This is the feature directing debut of triple Oscar-nominated producer James Schamus (Brokeback Mountain), and stars Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon.

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