After landing at a disappointing third place in the US chart the previous weekend, it was down to the overseas territories to pick up the slack for Sony’s After Earth, which teams global superstar Will Smith with son Jaden. Could foreign make up for the weak results at domestic? Well, no complaints from Sony at its UK chart position (it’s at the top) but the box-office number, £2.25m, is nothing to get excited about. By rule of thumb it’s actually behind the pace of its US debut of $27.5m – you’d expect a UK figure of around £2.7m. The result trails behind the debuts not just of 2013 franchise pictures such as Fast & Furious 6 (£8.72m) and Star Trek Into Darkness (£8.43m including previews), but also of similarly themed non-sequels. Tom Cruise sci-fi Oblivion started its run with £3.36m plus £1.60m in previews for a five-day opening of £4.96m.Looper, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, kicked off with £2.43m last September.
After Earth is the first film starring Will Smith since Men in Black 3 debuted with a disappointing £2.94m last May. The sci-fi comedy went on to recover, eventually passing £22m. Smith’s star power was enough to open downbeat drama Seven Pounds to £1.57m in January 2009, and in July 2008 his Hancockexploded with £9.59m including £2.96m in previews. Son Jaden’s previous effort The Karate Kid also debuted more strongly than After Earth: it began in July 2010 with £4.88m including previews of £2.29m.
The arthouse hit
Since The Great Gatsby landed in mid-May, the arthouse market has seen a trickle of relatively tiny pictures – distributors evidently felt it was better to wait for a more propitious time when dating niche titles with crossover appeal. Now Baz Luhrmann’s literary adaptation finally gets some serious upscale competition in the shape of Behind the Candelabra, Steven Soderbergh‘s swansong about showman pianistLiberace‘s love affair with the much-younger Scott Thorson. Predicting the commercial outcome was a tough call: strong marketable elements included Soderbergh and stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. But the popularity of Liberace was debatable, and Behind the Candelabra presented an image of gay sexuality presumably less broadly appealing than the manly hunks of Brokeback Mountain.
Distributor eOne released the film on a relatively tight 131 screens, achieving a gross of £513,000 and an average of £3,918. The distributor reports a strong hold on Monday, achieving the highest screen average of any film in the market on that day. Behind the Candelabra expands to 243 cinemas from Friday.Read More