UK Box Office

The Winner: Transformers

Transformers: The Last Knight, the latest in a seemingly endless series of sequels and brand exploitations this summer, had no problem shoving Wonder Womanoff the top spot after a three-week stay, nabbing first place with £4.64m, including £734,000 in previews. That’s almost as much as the weekend box office for the rest of the top 10 put together.

Drill down into the details and the picture begins to look less impressive. Previous Transformers instalment Age of Extinction kicked off with a towering £11.75m, although that number was boosted by six days of previews, contributing £8.04m. Before that, Dark of the Moon (2011) began with £6.5m (£10.73m including previews), Revenge of the Fallen (2009) with £8.35m (no previews) and the original Transformers (2007) with £4.9m (£7.26m including previews).

So far this year, ignoring previews, 13 films have opened bigger than The Last Knight, including Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 and Wonder Woman. Currently, the IMDb user rating for the film is a mediocre 5.3/10. That should be a worry for Paramount, Hasbro and partners because franchise fans tend to rush to see a movie first, and user ratings tend to drift downwards. The MetaCritic score is a dismal 28/100.

The classy alternative: Hampstead

Audiences flocked to The Lady in the Van (2015), which was set in London NW1, so how about the NW3-set Hampstead, which offered older and upscale audiences a clear alternative to the Transformers film? Answer: £454,000 from a generous 485 cinemas, giving a £935 site average.

Anecdotally, the film achieved varied results across the UK. Cinemagoers flocked to see it at Everyman Hampstead, for example, but audiences in the north and the Midlands were less enthused by this late-blossoming love story involving Diane Keaton as a kooky charity shop volunteer and Brendan Gleeson as a homeless man occupying a shack on the edge of Hampstead Heath. The Lady in the Van began with £2.26m from 523 cinemas, on its way to an impressive final tally of £12.9m. Hampstead will be lucky to do a fifth of those numbers.

The Irish hit

With its cinema count rising modestly from 44 to 55, Irish crime tale Cardboard Gangsters – about a youthful gang trying to gain control of the drugs trade in a working-class Dublin suburb – saw its box office surge by 75%. The film, which is currently on release only in Ireland and Northern Ireland, took £73,000 in its second frame and reached £166,000 after 10 days. Distributor Wildcard had a huge success last year with doofus comedy The Young Offenders, cracking £1m in Ireland alone. Wildcard hopes Cardboard Gangsters will reach cinemas in mainland Britain in a few weeks’ time.

Admissions update

Admissions figures – the number of tickets sold – are in for May, and they show a drop of 10% compared with May 2016, when titles on release included Captain America: Civil War and X-Men Apocalypse. However, thanks to commercial powerhouses earlier this year, including Beauty and the Beast in March and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 in late April, admissions are up 9% for the first five months. June 2017 is proving lacklustre, with both Baywatch and The Mummy so far failing to crack £10m at the box office. June 2016 was also pretty poor, compounded by distributors holding back titles because of the Uefa European Championship in France.

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