UK Box Office

Top new entry: Moana

With three weeks to go, Disney released its big family film for Christmas: Polynesia-set animation Moana. The seafaring adventure failed to dislodge Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, now in its third week. An opening gross of £2.21m (including previews of £33,000) seems rather modest for a Disney animation – Zootropolis kicked off in March with £5.31m, including £1.73m in previews.

In fairness, family films released in the run-up to Christmas tend to start rather gently, picking up steam when schools break up. That said, Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur began with £2.93m in the last weekend of November 2015 – 33% ahead of the Moana opening. The Good Dinosaur ended up with a lifetime tally of £15.15m, making it the lowest-grossing Pixar movie to date. Disney must be disappointed to have opened Moana even lower.

A factor here is likely to be the continuing strong performance of Fantastic Beasts, which added £4.49m in its third weekend, taking the 17-day tally to £37.9m. The JK Rowling-scripted blockbuster has overtaken the lifetime totals of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (£36.6m) and Captain America: Civil War (£36.9m), thus becoming the fifth biggest hit of 2016 so far, behind Bridget Jones’s Baby(£47.8m), The Jungle Book (£46.2m), Finding Dory (£42.8m) and Deadpool(£38.1m).

The runner-up: Sully

Warners UK executives may have wondered whether the story of US Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger – who landed a plane on the Hudson River in 2009 after both his engines were disabled by a flock of geese – would resonate with UK cinemagoers. But selling points included director Clint Eastwood and star Tom Hanks, and Sully has opened solidly with £1.79m including £18,000 previews.

In the US, the film began in September with $35m, on its way to a total of $125m. An equivalent opening in the UK would be £3.5m, so Sully is not yet matching its US success.

The Polish surprise: Pitbull: Tough Women

Most UK cinemagoers will never have heard of Polish action film Pitbull: Tough Women, which has crashed into the UK chart in fifth place. Targeted at the UK’s sizeable Polish population, the film played in 104 Odeon cinemas, grossing a stunning £456,000.

Distributor Phoenix opened franchise predecessor Pitbull: Public Order in April, debuting with £146,000, on its way to a final £544,000. If Tough Women follows a similar trajectory, it would end up with £1.7m, making it the year’s biggest foreign language European film, ahead of Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta (£1.33m).

The year’s biggest Hindi-language hits are Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (£1.47m) and Sultan (£1.79m), so Tough Women also has a chance of overtaking those, thus becoming the biggest foreign language film of 2016 at UK and Ireland cinemas.

Both these Pitbull films are rated 18, Public Order for “strong violence, sex and sexual violence”, and Tough Women for “very strong language, strong bloody violence and injury detail”. Both are directed by Patryk Vega, as was the 2005 original Pitbull movie (never released in UK cinemas) and the spinoff TV series of the same name.

The also-rans: The Edge of Seventeen and Bleed for This

Two wide releases – teen comedy The Edge of Seventeen and boxing drama Bleed for This – made little impact at the box office, landing in ninth and 10th place. In fact, it was only thanks to £60,000 in previews that Edge of Seventeen (£273,000) made the Top 10 at all.

Bleed for This stars Miles Teller(Whiplash) as Italian American boxer Vinny Pazienza, who made what is regarded as one of the greatest comebacks in sports history when he re-entered the ring 13 months after breaking his neck in a car crash. Reviews were modestly encouraging, but, following on from Creed earlier this year and Southpaw in 2015, audiences might not have been ready for another boxing picture.

As for The Edge of Seventeen, reviews were strong, but a 15 certificate meant it had to play to older teenagers and adults, pushing it closer to edgy fare such as The Diary of a Teenage Girl than, say, Mean Girls (£5.5m).

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