UK Box Office

The winner: Alien: Covenant

With £5.18m including modest previews of £348,000, Alien: Covenant elbowed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 aside after two weeks at the chart summit for the Marvel adventure. The two films were the runaway winners at the weekend, between them responsible for more the two thirds of all UK box office receipts.

Putting the Alien number into context, it’s 23% down on the debut of Prometheusin June 2012. On the other hand, it’s well up on the openings of any of the first four Alien movies (or either Alien vs Predator film, for that matter) – although that is without taking ticket price inflation into account. Previously, the biggest debut in the franchise was Alien: Resurrection (1997), which began with £2.67m in November 1997.

It seems likely that Prometheus took the edge off fan excitement, although it may also have helped bring on board some new audiences to the franchise.

Although £5m-plus would still qualify as a blockbuster opening number in the UK, Alien: Covenant has delivered only the 11th biggest debut of 2017, behind – in chronological order – La La Land, Sing, T2 Trainspotting, The Lego Batman Movie, Fifty Shades Darker, Logan, Kong: Skull Island, Beauty and the Beast, Fast & Furious 8 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Including previews, it’s also beaten by Assassin’s Creed and The Boss Baby.

The runner-up: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

With over £33m in 17 days, the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie has overtaken La La Land (£30.4m) to become the second biggest hit of 2017, behind only Beauty and the Beast (uncatchable at £71.6m). This means Disney has scored the two biggest hits of the year so far in the UK. The first Guardians of the Galaxyfilm grossed £28.5m in summer 2014.

The one-time awards hopeful: Miss Sloane

So far, 2017 has proved pretty brutal to films that were mooted for an awards-season release but pushed into safer waters after the Bafta-qualifying window had closed. One case in point is Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply, which is just about ending its brief run with a £94,000 total gross. John Madden’s Miss Sloane, starring Jessica Chastain as a political lobbyist, was also initially considered for a run in the crowded awards corridor. The environment now is certainly less competitive for an upscale drama, but audiences mostly shrugged at the weekend, resulting in a UK opening of £190,000 from 219 cinemas. But spare a thought for Sean Penn’s The Last Face, starring Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem as international aid workers. Any awards hopes for this misconceived effort expired after the first press screening at the film’s Cannes premiere last May. Lionsgate snuck it out at the weekend, grossing £46,000 from 50 cinemas – which is frankly more than you’d expect. The IMDb user rating is 3.6 out of 10, and the Metacritic score is a dismal 16/100.

The indie alternatives: Frantz and The Levelling

Frantz, the latest from prolific French auteur François Ozon, has begun its run with a decent £41,000 from 28 cinemas, and £70,000 including previews. Ozon’s previous feature, The New Girlfriend, was released in May 2015 into 44 cinemas, beginning with £95,000 including £35,000 in previews. Ozon’s biggest box-office hit in the UK remains 2013 comedy In the House, which reached £848,000. Black-and-white period drama Frantz was never likely to deliver equivalently broad appeal. British indie The Levelling struggled to convert critical acclaim into bums on seats, despite some encouraging numbers in the south-west, where the film is set. Hope Dickson Leach’s film began with £19,000 from 22 venues, £25,000 including previews.

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