The winner: Beauty and the Beast
Ever since the UK’s cinema programmers saw the completed version of Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast, commercial confidence in the film has been sky high. “Even bigger than The Jungle Book” was the verdict of one chief booker, with reference to Disney’s last attempt to turn one of its classic animations into a live-action hit. The Jungle Book opened with a robust £9.9m in the UK last April, on its way to a final tally of £46.2m – making it the fourth biggest hit of 2016.
Beauty and the Beast has debuted with a stunning £19.7m, just shy of double the Jungle Book number. It’s also the fifth-biggest three-day opening ever in the UK, behind only Star Wars: The Force Awakens (£24.33m), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (£23.75m), Skyfall (£20.18m) and Spectre (£19.98m). All four of the films achieving bigger weekend debuts are rated 12A – Beauty and the Beast has delivered the biggest three-day number ever for a PG film.
While The Jungle Book last year borrowed only a few songs from the 1967 animated classic, Condon’s Beauty and the Beast is a much more faithful remake of Disney’s 1991 animation, albeit adding songs from the subsequent stage musical. The film’s success suggests that Disney does not need to reinvent the wheel when plundering its animation back catalogue – merely transpose the cartoon films into lavish live action versions as faithfully as possible. Expect more of the same in the years to come.
The Beauty and the Beast number is particularly impressive when you consider that we are currently not in a school-holiday period. Easter is not until the middle of April this year, suggesting that Disney’s film has a good few weeks of robust play ahead of it. Family films in the coming weeks include Smurfs: The Lost Village, The Boss Baby and Peppa Pig: My First Cinema Experience. There’s also the 12A-rated Power Rangers.
The alternative: Get Out
Released as smart counter-programming to Beauty and the Beast, Universal’s darkly comic horror Get Out has scored with a nifty £2.16m, and a site average of £4,596. The debut feature from writer-director Jordan Peele offers the first notable lead role for British actor Daniel Kaluuya, and it’s hard to think of recent titles that would make apt comparisons to Get Out. For example, action comedy Keanu – which Peele scripted with regular co-star Keegan-Michael Key – doesn’t happily compare, but for the record it opened in the UK with a dismal £14,000 from 52 cinemas.
Get Out is the latest genre title from Jason Blum’s prolific – and highly profitable – Blumhouse Productions. The budget is reported at $4.5m, and US box office is $133m. Past hits from Blumhouse include the Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Sinister and The Purge franchises.
The action face-off
With £1.76m at the weekend, Logan has passed the £20m barrier with 19-day takings of £20.3m. It’s only the third X-Men film (out of nine) to cross £20m, following X-Men 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Viewed solely in the lineage of the standalone Wolverine movies, the result is particularly impressive, since X-Men Origins: Wolverine reached £16.4m and the 2013’s The Wolverine managed just £13.8m. The box-office trajectory of these Wolverine spinoffs was heading downwards, so it’s a notable achievement to woo audiences after disappointing them twice.
Logan might be doing even better were it not facing fairly direct competition at the multiplexes from Kong: Skull Island. Starring Tom Hiddleston, the action smackdown added another £2.71m at the weekend, and is now at £11.07m. Warners and Legendary’s Godzilla stood at a slightly better £11.83m at the same stage of its run, so look for Skull Island to fall short of Godzilla’s final total of £17.2m.
The arthouse battle
Olivier Assayas’s Personal Shopper and Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman arrived at the UK’s indie cinemas at the weekend, having both premiered 10 months ago in competition at the 2016 Cannes film festival. They enter a market that has already provided a berth to Paul Verhoeven’s French language debut Elle – another Cannes title from last year.Read More….