UK Box Office

The winner: JK Rowling

With £30.14m in 10 days, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has become the quickest film to reach £30m at the UK and Ireland box office since Star Wars: The Force Awakens last December. The JK Rowling-scripted film grossed £8.89m at the weekend, a decline of 42% on the opening frame. For comparison, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War – which are the other two films this year that came particularly fast out of the gate – fell respectively by 68% and 67% in their second sessions. Deadpool was sturdier, with a 43% drop on its second weekend

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the tenth release this year to crack £30m – after Bridget Jones’s Baby (£47.8m), The Jungle Book (£46.2m), Finding Dory (£42.8m), Deadpool (£37.9m), Captain America: Civil War (£36.9m), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (£36.6m), The Secret Life of Pets (£35.9m), Suicide Squad (£33.6m) and The BFG (£30.6m). In addition, 2015 release Star Wars: The Force Awakens grossed £35.9m in calendar year 2016, so that would be an eleventh.

The question now is whether Fantastic Beasts will burn through its audience and fall short of the year’s biggest hits, or sustain nicely through until Christmas. Based on the performance of Harry Potter films as well as a 7.9/10 user rating for Fantastic Beasts at IMDb, you’d suspect the latter. Competition for the family end of the audience arrives on Friday with Disney Animation’s Moana, which opened in the US at the extended Thanksgiving weekend with a muscular $81m. Rogue One follows on 16 December.

The runner-up: Brad Pitt

With a debut of £1.30m (plus £33,000 previews), Robert Zemeckis’s second world war spy romance Allied grossed just 15% of the Fantastic Beasts number at the weekend, but that was still enough to land in second place, given weak competition from other titles in the marketplace (everything else earned less than £1m in ticket sales at the weekend).

This is the third film for Brad Pitt set during the second world war, following Inglourious Basterds and Fury. Neither are particularly apt comparisons for Allied, but for the record those two films opened respectively with £1.9m (plus £1.69m previews) and £2m (plus £698,000 in previews).

Pitt had a supporting role in The Big Short in January. His previous lead was in romantic drama By the Sea, co-starring and directed by Angelina Jolie. That creative and commercial misfire grossed a dismal £46,000 in its entire UK theatrical run last December.

The indie battle: Paterson v A United Kingdom

Two new releases targeted the indie market: Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson and Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom. The latter was positioned much broader, with a release by Pathe/Fox into 419 cinemas, including a wide swath of upscale multiplex sites. Soda put Paterson into a more targeted 62 venues, mixing boutique chains (Picturehouse, Curzon, Everyman) and selected plex venues with key independents.

Given its wider release, A United Kingdom unsurprisingly achieved the bigger box office: £619,000 (including £54,000 previews), compared to £170,000 (including £42,000 previews) for Paterson. Stripping out previews, site averages are £1,345 and £2,103 respectively

Director Asante has achieved her biggest ever opening gross. Her previous film Belle began in June 2014 with £407,000 from 408 cinemas, including negligible previews of £4,000. That film went on to a UK lifetime total of £1.95m.

Jarmusch has enjoyed rather patchy commercial success at the UK box office. His previous fiction feature Only Lovers Left Alive began with £124,000 from 68 cinemas on its way to a lifetime of £315,000. Arguably, the earlier film, with a cast including Tom Hiddleston as a vampire rock star, appeared to be a more commercial prospect than Paterson, with Adam Driver as a New Jersey bus-driving poet, so Soda should be happy with the outcome. Jarmusch’s biggest hit in the UK remains 2005’s Broken Flowers, with £1.94m. The director is also currently in cinemas with Iggy Pop documentary Gimme Danger, which has reached £53,000 so far.

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