UK Box Office

The winner: The Lego Batman Movie

Declining a slim 19% at the weekend, The Lego Batman Movie tops the UK box office chart with £4.44m, and £17.45m after 12 days of play. The half-term holiday saw steady daily business for the animation, and the film added a healthy £9.54m over the past seven days. More schools are on holiday this week, so robust business should continue.

In February 2014, The Lego Movie stood at £21.88m at the same stage of its run, ie 25% ahead of the pace set by Lego Batman. The Lego Movie ended up with £33.5m, so Lego Batman could be on course for about £27m. One fly in the ointment is the continuing strong performance of Sing, which added £5.24m over the past seven days, and now stands at £23.45m. Sing declined only 10% at the weekend – its fourth.

The runner-up: Fifty Shades Darker

Box office fell by a predictably steep 55% in its second session, but Fifty Shades Darker held on to second place in the chart. Takings are now £16.71m, which compares with £25.24m for Fifty Shades of Grey at the same stage of its run. Based on those numbers, Universal is looking at a final total of about £23m for Darker. In the all-time chart for 18-certificate titles, The Wolf of Wall Street(£22.7m) and Gone Girl (£22.3m) currently sit behind Fifty Shades of Grey (£35.1m). Fifty Shades Darker has a good chance of elbowing aside the Martin Scorsese and David Fincher titles.

Also moving up the 18-certificate chart is T2 Trainspotting, which has now reached £15.33m. Danny Boyle’s film will soon overtake Basic Instinct, Brüno and Django Unchained, for ninth place in the chart, behind Fifty Shades of Grey, The Wolf of Wall Street, Gone Girl, Hannibal, American Beauty, Seven, The Silence of the Lambs and Fifty Shades Darker.

On the rise: Moonlight

In the battle of the Oscar-nominated titles, none achieved a higher screen average at the weekend than Moonlight. With takings of £368,000 from just 85 cinemas, Barry Jenkins’ acclaimed film achieved a site average of £4,328. Including hefty previews of £254,000, the total is now an impressive £622,000.

UK rights on Moonlight remained available until relatively late, and word in the industry was that the price tag was unrealistically high. In other words, Moonlight represented a considerable risk for Altitude, the distributor that eventually bought it, though that risk now looks to be paying off. Any wins at the Oscars should help further sustain Moonlight, which expands to 177 venues on Friday.

The untypical depth of the market may be judged by the fact that Moonlight reached only 10th place in the chart with £622,000. As recently as mid-December, It’s a Wonderful Life found itself in the same position with weekend box office of £86,000.

The new players

Three new films arrived in the chart, each released in more than 400 cinemas, and all achieving box office above £1m. John Wick: Chapter 2 was king of the heap, with a debut of £2.23m, including previews of £248,000. That is a massive advance on the opening of the original John Wick, in April 2015: £540,000 from 390 sites, including previews of £31,000.

Zhang Yimou’s fantasy action adventure The Great Wall landed in fifth place with £1.65m. Expectations for this Matt Damon starrer had fallen so far that this number seems perfectly decent. The production budget is said to have been a hefty $150m, but the UK market was presumably never expected to do much of the heavy lifting. The film has already grossed $170m in China.

Hidden Figures arrived one place behind The Great Wall with £1.45m, including £238,000 in previews. Hidden Figures went head to head in the UK with fellow best picture Oscar nominee Moonlight, and also Fences. Despite big differences in the films, it’s rare to see three US dramas arriving simultaneously, all featuring African American main characters. Fences expanded from 21 cinemas to 148 and now stands at £569,000. Fences benefits from bigger star names (Denzel Washington, Viola Davis) than the other two films, but its stage play origins and intimate setting may be seen as a relative commercial handicap. The film expands to 350 cinemas this Friday.

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