War for the Planet of the Apes shows its simian strength at UK box office

The winner: War for the Planet of the Apes

For the fourth weekend in a row, a film with blockbuster ambition has arrived at the top of the UK box office, with War for the Planet of the Apes landing in the wake of Spider-Man: Homecoming (5 July), Despicable Me 3 (30 June) and Transformers: The Last Knight (22 June). The latest Apes film has begun with a solid £5.22m, and £7.20m including previews for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The numbers may be a tad disappointing to backers Fox, because franchise predecessor Dawn of the Planet of the Apes began in July 2014 with £7.10m from four days, plus £1.61m from a single day of previews. War has taken less in six days (£7.20m) than Dawn did in those four (£8.71m).

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, with a total of £32.7m in the UK, was the fifth biggest hit of 2014 – a year notably light on major box-office winners. Its total was an impressive 4.6 times its opening weekend number, indicating strong audience satisfaction and powerful word of mouth. Fox will be hoping that War can achieve a similar feat of sustaining in the current market, although the competitive environment looks discouraging – the much-buzzed Dunkirk, by director Christopher Nolan, arrives on Friday.

The family battle: Despicable Me 3 v Cars 3

Given that the previous Cars films provided two of the three worst results in the UK for Pixar (beating only commercial minnow The Good Dinosaur among the Pixar canon), it might be a surprise to see a third Cars movie racing out of the starting grid. Was the market truly crying out for this? The franchise has been reasonably successful globally, with Cars 2 scoring well in Japan, Mexico, Russia and Brazil. More pertinently, the series is Pixar’s jewel in the crown for consumer products, with massive sales for toys, sleepwear, costumes, underwear, backpacks, luggage, stationery and toolbox play sets. Box office is almost incidental to the value of the Lightning McQueen brand.

Cars 3 has opened in the UK with a soft £2.63m, which compares with £3.54m for the start of Cars 2 just under six years ago. The original Cars began in 2006 with £2.67m. Disney points out that most schools in the UK have yet to break up for the summer holiday.

Meanwhile, Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me 3 does not appear to have been held back by its release during a non-holiday period. Despite competition from Cars 3, the Universal release fell by only 27% at the weekend, the smallest decline of any film in the Top 10. Its gross of £3.84m was more in its third weekend than Cars 3 managed for its debut session. Its total after 17 days is a nifty £25.6m, with the school summer holiday ahead of it.

The indie challenger: The Beguiled

Six films into her writing and directing career, Sofia Coppola has established herself as a recognised film-maker without having achieved much consistent commercial success: 2003’s Lost in Translation ($120m worldwide) remains by far her biggest hit. The genre-inflected The Beguiled, with a cast led by Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, offered commercial potential, and UK distributor Universal pushed it out into an ambitious 250 multiplexes and indie venues.

The result: a respectable £388,000, or £415,000 including previews. Previous effort The Bling Ring (2013) began in the UK with £141,000 from 65 sites, on its way to a total of £628,000. Predecessor Somewhere (2010) maxed out at £495,000.

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