UK Box Office


You might have thought the market was already crowded with Oscar fare. A three-hour 18-certificate comedy might be considered a distribution challenge. But Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street bulldozered past any such concerns, posting a sensational UK opening of £4.66m. That’s the third-biggest debut for an 18-certificate film, behind just Hannibal (£6.40m) and Bruno (£5.00m). It’s also well up on the openings of recent Scorsese films such as Hugo (£1.23m), Shutter Island (£2.25m) and The Departed (£2.30m). Previously, Scorsese’s biggest opening was Gangs of New York, with £2.62m.

In the US, The Wolf of Wall Street opened on Christmas Day (a popular day for cinemagoing over there), eventually yielding a five-day debut session of $34.3m (£20.8m). Going by industry rule of thumb, an equivalent UK result would be £3.4m. Not only has Universal UK delivered a bigger number than that, it’s done it in three days instead of five. The Wolf of Wall Street is currently at $91m (£55m) in the US, after four weeks of play.

The top UK box-office result for an 18 certificate remains Hannibal with £21.6m, followed by American Beauty with £21.3m. The Wolf of Wall Street has a long way to go to catch up with those numbers, although a sustained run right up to Oscar night (on 2 March) and beyond could well see it get close.

The runner-up

Expanding from 207 to 386 sites, 12 Years a Slave was able to hold its position in the marketplace, in fact going up by 22% at the box office. The past seven days have seen Slave add £4.61m to its opening tally, for a 10-day cumulative total of £7.13m. For comparison, eventual Best Picture Oscar winners Slumdog Millionaire and The King’s Speech had reached £5.96m and £10.76m at the same stage of their respective runs. Another comparison might be Django Unchained, which had reached an almost identical £7.19m after two weekends of play. The fact that Steve McQueen’s harrowing true tale has so far commercially matched Quentin Tarantino’s audaciously crowd-pleasing and star-powered revenge fantasy may be considered pretty remarkable.

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