UK Box Office

About Time (dir. Richard Curtis)

Following a summer season dominated by animation and action blockbusters, cinemas welcomed a more grownup programming mix after kids and teens went back to school after the long holiday. The reliable Richard Curtis delivered another box-office chart-topper, About Time, thanks to a debut of £1.76m, including £385,000 in Wednesday/Thursday takings. That’s almost dead level with the opening salvo of 2009’s The Boat That Rocked: £1.80m, including £471,000 in previews.

The Boat That Rocked was an expensively made film that ended up with a weak £6.2m total in the UK – a massive disappointment after the £36.8m success of 2003’s Love Actually. About Time suggests itself as a tricky distribution challenge since the romance and comedy come with a time-travel sci-fi element, and also intimate family drama: great if all the genre hooks accrete; less so if they cancel each other out. On top of that, it’s been a full decade since Curtis enjoyed a real box-office hit. The director’s name is the strongest marketable ingredient in About Time since the protagonist is played by the talented but commercially unproven Domhnall Gleeson; co-stars Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy also add value.

After encouraging results from advance “talker” free screenings, undertaken with various media partners, distributor Universal will be hoping that positive word-of-mouth will sustain About Time in the coming weeks, pushing its total ahead of that of The Boat That Rocked.

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